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one man's journey in the coffee Industry part 3

Hi Guys, at least I have a few views. Please share this with friends, at least you will probably learn something. So here it is, 1992, I have moved up in the company, but really I am only the one guy they have, that is not 50, let's say. I am a bit worried about this, but I am on the fast track and making, what I thought was good money. I pretty much had my say in every aspect of the business, some of it was probably nonsense, some of it was extremely good. But I just kept thinking, what is the long term plan here? Is there a future or not. Well the future walked through the door in late spring of that year, it was the owner's son, just out of college. I thought, wow, ok at least I know what the plan is. So, the owner, my boss, his father, says to me, "now take him under your wing, I want you to show him the ropes, so let's give him a sales territory and we will go from there". I was totally fine with that, because where I grew up, everyone worked for the same company their whole lives, and that meant it had to be functioning. So onward and upward, right? Well not exactly, you see I was in charge of negotiating and buying the cars for the sales guys/gals at the time, so I worked the deal got the car and handed them over to, let's just call him, Billy. Two days later after trying to get in touch with him to set up a schedule, he pulls up in the new car, but with one difference, it has a ski rack on it! Guess what, this probably isn't going to work out. You know the coffee business, at least on the foodservice side, providing delivery, sales, service and equipment, is a very difficult business. Sure, there are brands, but it is a very regional, kind of old time, Hatfield's and McCoy's thing. So you have to build relationships and you have to really take care of them. If you make it turnkey, you have a shot, if you don't GOODBYE. So, needless to say after six months of nothing, my boss, the owner, let his son go! I am pretty worried now, as I have taken on even more responsibility now, and I am thinking this is my best shot, because they trusted me. But remember this is a privately held, third generation company, so you just never know. Oh I applied myself and learned everything I could. In fact, I was feeling really good that I was the next in line to become a VP. Not bad I thought, I was acquiring skills I never thought I would have the chance to get, so what's wrong with that. I was making a good living, and I had the owner's ear. Not bad, all was good with the world. I just had my second child, a beautiful boy, and I am thinking, wow, this could be a great life. Well not so fast.

After the owner's son failed, he went on this secret search for a successor, if you will, and in October of that year, I along with everyone else from upper management, was introduced to the NEW EVP of the company! He was going to change the business, grow it and take it to new levels. I was pretty upset at this new development but, hey, it wasn't my company and ultimately he had to do what he thought was right.  Right off the bat, there was tension. He was barking about incremental profits, and economies of scale, and we had just come from the 18th century! So, this went on for about five months, when I get a call from the owner. He tells me from now on, he wants me to go on all of this guy's sales calls and he wants me to monitor what he is telling people. Tough spot to be in, until one day, he is walking through the front door, having done nothing to improve the company. He spots me at the door, because of course I have been there two hours earlier than him, and instructs me to take his briefcase back to his office for him, he is late for a meeting! What? Then for me, that was pretty much it. I liked him enough but his complete disregard, like I was his bellboy really pissed me off, and you know what you shouldn't really piss me off. I went on a few subsequent sales calls with him, he couldn't sell, all he did was try to structure mutually beneficial deals. But they weren't even that, because he was offering clients upfront money, when he didn't even know the volume or cost structures. He was telling people he would match the blend for less money and he didn't even know what the blends he was matching were.

Anyway, the day I drove him home, almost to the day he would have been there a year, he kept asking me, what did I do wrong. I thought I was doing a good job? I pretty much took the high road, took the keys to his Acura and drove it back to the company. I walked in the door, handed the keys over to the owner. He smiled and looked at me and said,"well kid, I guess it is just me and you now". I went home praying he meant it. That's all for today guys, Keep the faith, love the one you're with and take a deep breathe, because it is only life! Joe


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