Volume 46, Issue 8 - October 2007
A dealer’s perspective
by R. Mark Reasbeck, Owner of Coyote Springs Window and Door of Las Vegas. Mr. Reasbeck’s comments are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.
A Slice of Humble Pie…
And a Swallow of Pride Punch
I’m constantly amazed at the number of wise lessons I learned from my dad. The adage of “more is caught than taught” would best describe his teaching style, because he was just being himself.
He worked in construction—from a hands-on carpenter to a project manager—but just like today’s building climate, there were some lean years. Dad did “what he had to do” to make sure five kids had full bellies.
One year he took this “what-ever-it-takes” attitude a little too far. He became the janitor of my school in the glory of my elementary school years, eighth grade.
Dad was there to mop floors, clean toilets, fix leaks and all my friends knew my dad was the janitor. (I don’t think we had a more politically correct name for it back then, such as “custodian.”) Then, when school was over each day, I got to drive home with the school janitor, thinking it was embarrassing, not knowing I was getting my real education.
Now, let’s jump ahead several decades. On Memorial Day weekend in 2004, we moved my business into a 9100-square-foot facility after outgrowing the old location. A five-year lease was in place and all was well. Along with the downturn in business in the fall of 2006 came an increase in my care and maintenance charges for the grounds. My original charges were $690 per month—over and above my lease payment. They decided $1,390 would be a better amount for taking care of half-dead trees, and parking lot lights left on for days at a time. After checking with neighboring tenants, I learned that mine went up 100 percent, while the others saw increases of 55 to 60 percent.
With business off by 50 percent, it was not the best use of my time to go find a new location, not to mention the physical burden of relocation of a warehouse full of product, offices and getting phones in less than 30 days. I found buildings with less square footage, but a higher price per square foot than I was paying currently. Frustrated to the max, I asked myself, “What do I do?”
I believe in the “much wisdom in many counselors” approach, and ran my idea by a few close friends and hands-on business people. My insurance lady, Tania, said it was a brilliant idea, so I moved forward, and here’s what I did.
As I commuted from Pahrump, Nev., about 50 miles from Las Vegas, everyday, I noticed a building near my house for lease. Since most of my business is in Vegas, this didn’t make a lot of sense—or does it? Next, I contacted my old landlord and he had an “office only” available near our previous location in Las Vegas. It was time to inform the employees of my non-conventional idea—and, fortunately, they went for it.
We now have our “Western Regional Distribution Center” (that’s a warehouse on a fenced acre) in Pahrump, Nev., and our “Managing Corporate Headquarters” in Las Vegas. I can’t tell you how scary this was to put together in about 30 days, but I had to cut expenses and try to survive the downturn.
The Real Bottom Line
One of the unforeseen benefits of locating the warehouse 50 miles from the office was that everyone is working more efficiently. The realization that mistakes could produce a 100-plus mile extra trip has forced a built-in triple-check on receiving, invoicing and deliveries.
Let’s go back to my insurance lady’s comment. She said the move was brilliant because many business owners are too proud to take backward steps, and the ones who recognize that this is necessary usually survive the downturns. My gut feeling is the guy in a janitor’s shirt was the brilliant one here, and I’m glad that I’ve learned to do whatever it takes.
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