March 27, 2012

So, I Cleaned Out My Old Oak Desk

By Paul Bieber

I have a small home office with a large oak, roll-top desk. When I bought the desk about 35 years ago it was already old, with a date of 1890 stamped on the brass lock that holds the rolltop in place. This desk looks like every desk you see in the old westerns on TV, plenty of pigeon holes and drawers. It is a true classic antique.

So what does this have to do with the glass industry? Plenty. Read on.

In 1978, I was the regional sales rep for CR Laurence covering Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. I had a customer in upstate New Hampshire, close to the Canadian border who owned this desk. The first time I saw the desk, I fell in love. During one visit I mentioned to the owner if he ever wanted to sell the desk to please call me.

Well, the phone did ring one day, and three days later he delivered the desk to our apartment in Boston. Elaine, as she always does, supported me, even though she thought I was a little bit off my rocker.

This desk is my work center for everything from household bills to writing blogs to managing the consulting gigs. There are no holes in the desktop to snake computer cables, yet somehow this desk works in our current electronic environment. I haven’t really emptied this desk in fifteen years. When we moved to NH, the moving company had four men lift the desk into the truck, with all the drawers in place. The unloaded it the same way. Why did I start to clean it now? I don’t know.

But I digress…back to the glass industry. I found business cards from people that have passed away; and cards from living people whose company’s have gone away. I called a few people who I haven’t talked to in years, and one of these calls may lead to a consulting project. I looked at trade show booklets from five years ago and wondered what ever happend to so-and-so.

I found, of course, baseball cards and old pairs of glasses; an unused ticket for a free car wash, valid in 1995 or 1996; some great pictures of my kids and Elaine, and many little snipets of information that will form future blogs.

Now the big finish. You can and should do the same. Look at every business card in your desk; look at your invoice register from three years ago and read your quote file from 2009. There were good customers there sprinkled between the complainers. Call to say hello. A couple of those folks might just ask ask if you are still in business and if so, can you quote on a job they have coming up. You have absolutely nothing to lose, except clutter. And everything to gain.

And it is not just your desk, but each desk in your company will have business treasures you can capitalize on. Seeing the quote from two years ago, where the owner decided to hold off until the economy turned, might be just the opportunity that is about to knock on your door.

Good hunting.