Thoughts from 36,000 Feet

Like many folks who are stuck in a metal tube traveling at 500 miles an hour, boredom begins to set in – so why not sit down and write errant thoughts, which will hopefully make sense at a later time.  Here it goes.

The industry lost an iconoclastic voice this past week with the death of Dick Gorelick, one of the industry’s true marketing consultants.  Dick wrote a bi-monthly newsletter which he shared with several of the affiliates – and we used his thoughts liberally.  Most of Dick’s writings weren’t very friendly to the industry associations or the post office (his favorite target – after the airlines). Sometimes it hurt to read what he was saying – but there was a lot of truth in those comments.  More importantly he challenged his clients to find ways to differentiate their business in other ways than buying more equipment.  His voice will be missed.

I’m headed to Washington D.C., as the Print Council’s Ben Cooper used to title “Fantasyland on the Potomac.”  For those of us who follow our nation’s politics, I’ve become somewhat jaded over the past decade as I’ve seen polarization set in, which is not good for this country regardless of what side of the aisle you sit.  Regardless, it’s important that our voices are heard – today more than ever before.  And I challenge anyone reading this column to become active in learning about the real issues – not just what the talking heads or bloggers opine about.  More importantly make sure that your legislators hear your voice.  As a business owner, or as an employee in a small business your voice needs to be heard.  So, stand up!

Once this trip ends, I’m headed to Los Angeles. My father passed away two weeks ago, and we are putting his ashes to rest this coming Friday.  My wife and are the black sheep of the family.  We packed up our belongings and my parents first grand child and moved to Texas 32 years ago.  Liz and I are now the only non-residents of California (both my kids now live in SoCal, as the locals refer to that part of the Left Coast).  My dad was a blue-collar guy and union member, which led to some interesting conversations over the years.  But he listened and attempted to understand his “errant” son’s pro business approach.  More importantly he understood that the unions had lost their way as they became more entrenched in being an organization rather than working on behalf of their constituency.  That’s where he and I saw eye-to-eye. I will miss those conversations, which ended years ago as Alzheimer’s ravaged his memory and eventually took his life.  Your voice will always be with me Dad.

On another note of interest, we are beginning to see a flurry of business consolidations.  And there’s more to come.  Many company owners are coming to the realization that things are not going to get “better” as in the past.  Thus, some are considering exiting the industry while others are looking for ways to “acquire” sales.  In our industry, one which has a tremendous amount of overcapacity and “old” technologies, acquiring a business really means finding a way to add sales – equipment has no value. The real challenge is for the owner of the “selling” company to understand that his/her business no longer has the same value as it might have 5-10 years ago,  It’s not an easy pill to swallow.

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