May 31, 2008

USGlass and Medal

By Paul Bieber

So, I have this cousin Mark, who really means well. It is just that his recent activities have caused me to hope if he ever has kids, his wife’s gene pool will overflow his. What makes me talk about Mark, especially here in this blog that is based in the glass industry? Here’s the story, and at the end, I think you will agree.

I ran into Mark at a recent family get-together. We were alone at the table, while the other couples and our wives were swapping baby and grandchild stories and photos. Mark said to me, “Hey, Paulie, I hear your retired from the glass business, what are you doing now?” I told him I was a writer for USGlass and Metal. Mark says, “What is this us glass–is it like us and them glass?” (Are you beginning to get an insight into Mark?)

I told him that USGlass and Metal is a very successful business and told him about the people who run it. “It’s simple…do something better than anybody else, have a great idea, and you, too, will be a success.” Well, our wives came back to the table, and we dropped the conversation. As we left, Mark said, “Paulie, can I call you about this glass and medal business?” “Sure,” I said, “anytime at all.”

He didn’t call, not that I was looking forward to it. Six months later at another cousin’s wedding, Mark pulls me into the bar and begins to tell me this story.

He had thought a lot about the glass and medal business, and if a mere ‘girlie’ (our publisher Deb Levy), could succeed, than he would be a shoo-in to be a success. So, Mark opened up a store, without having the faintest idea of how to be in business. He went around to every senior citizen home and offered to pay two bucks to every war vet for each of their medals. He paid an extra buck for purple hearts. Mark told these unsuspecting vets that he was going to open a store to showcase these medals, and he might sell a few. Everyone would share in the profits, with the $2 payment being an advance of the profits to show his good faith.

Soon, he had over six hundred medals. Now, what would the glass be? He knew. He went on-line and bought hundreds of imported magnifying glasses, to better see the medals. He opened the store, selling the medals for $100 bucks each, and throwing in the magnifying glass for free.

Let’s make a long story short…he lasted about three months without a single sale. A few people came in looking for a quote on patio doors, and Mark didn’t know what to do. He did donate six magnifying glasses to a kindergarten teacher so the kids could see some caterpillars.

The moral of the story? The glass and medal business is not as easy as it looks.