I used to sell glue.
Not too glamorous sounding, is it? And, to be sure, it’s not.
But that’s what I did. I sold glue and coatings…a whole lot of glue and coatings. In barrels, and totes, and even in tanker trucks. The glue I sold is all around you: It holds beer cases together and makes dog food bags shiny. One of my biggest customers used our glue exclusively to make Viagra packaging. My stuff was on orange juice cartons, lottery tickets, and even held the little thread that they put in $20 bills in place.
I lived on airplanes while I was selling glue. It wasn’t anything for me to hit Springfield, MA, in the same week that I was in West Monroe, LA and Low Moor, VA (while my home is in SC). I’d wake up in Chicago, IL, and go to sleep in Nashville, TN.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an exciting job at times. And there were a few rewards with it…I got paid quite handsomely, I ate a whole bunch of fine dining, and I forgot what it was like to fly in coach. Oh, and that weeklong getaway in the Virgin Islands on St. John was nice – first class and an all-inclusive resort that didn’t cost me a dime (countless miles in airplanes and equally countless nights in hotels provided the points to splurge).
But I was never very fulfilled.
It was Corporate America at its purest. Each year, I had to learn a whole new language at our sales meetings. “Metrics” and “synergies” and “sales plan audits”…all the latest buzzwords for the day. I would literally get aggravated when new “bosses” needed to look more “bossly” and they’d impose and come around my customers and ask a bunch of inane and pointless questions over a hurried lunch, not really listening but rather the whole while looking at their watch to make sure they don’t miss their next plane.
After a dozen years of this, I took a leap of faith. I bailed.
And I’ve never been happier of a decision in my entire life.
Someone recently asked me why it is that I do what I do. It was a thought-provoking question; one that I had never really considered. Because, to be honest, I sort of just fell into the boat lift business.
But after a few brief moments of thought, I looked my friend in the eye and said simply, “I do what I do because I want to give people a different business experience in today’s world.”
That I sell boat lifts and get to spend my days on or near the water is just a plus. It could be widgets. But the fact is that I learned a lot about how NOT to treat a customer from my years in Corporate America. (Now I’m not saying Corporate America is all bad or that folks who work for corporations are fools…don’t go there.) I am deeply thankful of the experiences I had with my previous career because it gave me such a knowledgeable head start to make my current career not only immensely enjoyable, but rewarding.
From day one with this company, I wanted to build a business around genuine relationships. I’m proud to say we have. I have great employees who embrace and appreciate even the littlest blessings in life. I’ve got great suppliers who understand it’s not just a matter of cramming in business to make a bottom line. And I’ve got great customers, with many of whom we’ve built lasting and reciprocal relationships with. I truly believe if we focus on the welfare of our employees and on the satisfaction of our customers, success will always follow. And so far, I’ve been right.
But don’t misconstrue this “mushy” talk to take us as pushovers. We are anything but. In fact, we’ll walk away from business, as we did earlier this year (after a contract was signed and a deposit was paid), with a client who got his kicks from bullying our employees. We’ve gone head-to-head with major heavy construction contractors this year on projects…and won. And when we had an open window to save our strength and postpone a huge opportunity in (literally) uncharted waters, we made it happen in less than 48 hours…AND after destroying the front end of a truck in a high speed deer strike at 4 a.m. (Let’s hear it for zip ties!)
We are on the map, folks. And we’re not going anywhere. We’re growing, which anybody knows in this economy is a feat in and of itself. We continue to find new and exciting uses for our Jetfloat systems. We’ve begun offering AccuDock systems for kayak launches and floating docks. Safe Haven remains our bread and butter and we look forward to introducing the new large-boat models this summer. And our marina refloat division has completed several great projects and we’re ridiculously excited that the fuse has been lit on that rocket.
But, at the end of the day, it all comes back to our customers. We could never have done what we have done this far without you and we extend our thanks to each and every one of our existing clients.
And to those who are considering doing business with Southeastern Dock & Platform, we say “Welcome!” Whether you need a couple of replacement parts and you want us to drop them in the mail to you, or you need a lift for your runabout, or you need a 400-slip marina refloated and leveled…we invite you to experience a whole new way of doing business.
Come in and chat a while! We’re glad you’re here.