Volume 35, Number 1, January 2000

theBUSINESS

 

Looking ________!!!

not the same-old, same old predictions

by Lyle Hill

I didn’t have to … and for sure, I shouldn’t have. But there is something about a ringing phone that intrigues me. The possibilities seem almost endless … could it be a customer calling to place a big order; or perhaps someone calling to let us know how pleased they were with the work we had done for them; or maybe one of our employees just ringing us up to let us know what a delight it is to work for us and be a part of our team. But it wasn’t a customer or an employee calling. No, it was none other than Johnny, “The Mooch” Rago with his first call of the New Millennium.

“Hey Hill,” the raspy voiced caller began. “Have you started on your January article yet for the magazine?”

“As a matter of fact, Mooch, that is exactly what I am doing now.”

“Good,” he said, “then I caught you in time.”

“Caught me in time for what?” I insisted.

“From making the same mistake every year with your January article. You see, Hill, every year you do the same old dull thing. The article is always titled ‘Looking Ahead’ or something similar and it pretty much says the same thing that everybody else is saying. And let’s face it, it’s usually dull and uninformative just like all the rest.”

“I don’t know if I agree with you,” I replied. “I thought I had some relatively interesting things to bring up and …”

“Give it a break, Hill,” he rudely interrupted. “Let me guess, you were gonna talk about how bad things are and how important it is that everybody knows their cost. And then you were gonna talk about how much trouble all the big guys in the industry are in and how it will be interesting to see which ones survive in the new year. And then you were probably gonna talk about the fact that by the time most of the people who read this magazine get around to reading it, one of the big guys will have already been sold and blah, blah, blah. Come on Hill, this is stuff they already know. What you need to do is give them important, blockbuster information that they can’t get anywhere else.”

“Like what,” I asked, thinking that maybe he was on to something.

“OK, I’ll tell you,” the Mooch replied. “But first, you need to clean up some stuff from last year. For instance, what became of your battle with the Virginia Glass Association? Did they make peace with you as promised or did you have to take the legal action you threatened?”

“I backed off,” I replied, “but not because they did what they promised. I was ready to go at it but then a large box of Virginia paraphernalia … including two hats … came in so I cooled off. Fortunately for them, Russ Ebeid from Guardian played peacemaker. He was the one that actually sent the things they had promised.”

“OK, now we’re getting somewhere,” the Mooch continued. “And what about that crazy crossword puzzle contest? Who won?”

“Actually, we only had one true winner although we had a lot of very creative responses. In fact, Mooch, the response we received from your old pal Jungle Jim Bruny was so hilarious that a couple of us fell out of our chairs laughing. I’d have it reprinted but this is a ‘family magazine’ and some of Jungle Jim’s answers were a little on the crude side. The real winners were the guys at Allen & Petersen in Anchorage, Alaska.”

“Good, Hill, good,” he rasped. “These are the things the readers really want to know. And you’ve got this bad habit of starting these situations and not finishing them up. So, now we have brought finality to these two issues. Leave all that predicting nonsense to those other stiffs and you stick with the light weight stuff and we’ll all be just fine.”

“I’ll try Mooch. But what about the blockbuster news you promised?”

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” he said. “OK, here it is. I am herein announcing that I have decided to become a part of the glass industry. Yes, it’s true. I am going to become a consultant to your industry because it’s obvious that there is a need for someone with my talents.”

“And what might those talents be?”

“Well,” he began, “I’ll be specializing in collections and price fixing.”

“I know you’d be effective in the collections area, Mooch, but price fixing is illegal.”

“Come on, Hill. You guys in the glass business are pros at it and there’s no way you can tell me it’s not an organized effort because I see it all the time. But I’m thinking it could be done more efficiently if it was run through me … for a small fee, of course.”

“Mooch, what in the world are you talking about? There’s no price fixing going on.”

“Oh yeah, then explain to me how it is that every couple of weeks somebody drops their price and then within 48 hours or less everybody else drops their price the same amount? If that’s not price fixing then what is it?”

“It’s called stupidity, Mooch.”

“Wow, you guys need me even more than I thought!”

 

wpe6.jpg (4635 bytes)Lyle Hill is president of MTH Industries-Glass America of Chicago, IL.

lyle@glass.com

 

Copyright 2000 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.