Most times an end-of-year blog post looks back at how things turned out. Not this time, as I have my sights squarely set on 2024 and leaving the past 12 months in the rear-view mirror (literally). I have made some new commitments to support our suppliers and dealers in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, along with more frequent visits to my customers in the greater New York metropolitan area. At age 63 and still reeling at times from the fallout from multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, and medications, you may wonder what motivates me to go back on the road. The answer is both simple and complicated; first off, it is “in my blood” having been a road rep since 1987. Secondly, this is best for our business at Reflex Marketing, as opportunities abound, and best explored in person. That said, my intention is to not follow in the footsteps of Willie Loman.*
Back to the Future
Dan Garrett gave me a shot at becoming a District Sales Manager while at Ensoniq. The territory covered seven states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio. When pondering the return to long drives on the PA Turnpike and I-80, fond memories surfaced. It turns out that many of the same people from my synthesizer days are still involved in the music trade, and it will be genuinely nice to see them again. The advantages of modern technology should ease the burden a bit, as in those halcyon days there was no GPS, cell phones were just coming on the scene and too expensive, and the Internet was not there for Google searches and email. Today I can harness all these tools to be more productive and make the best of overnight stays. And without question, I want to get back to my previous good habits of visiting the hotel gym in the morning and making healthy food choices all along the way.
Speeding up to Someday Slow Down
I am coming up on the five-year anniversary of acquiring Reflex Marketing, and what a ride it has been! Despite obstacles we continue to grow, acquiring new suppliers, expanding geographical coverage, and adding extraordinary talent to our roster. In the years since becoming a small business owner, I’ve also started four other companies – distribution of AER amplifiers and Outlaw Effects with Music Ship, acoustic guitar and cajon importing with Bodhi Guitars, and our new retail “arts experience” store The Crossroads Guitars and Art. I will take a consulting call now and then through Sound Marketing LLC, and the pace of my typical day is quite vigorous. I view this all as good reasons to get back on the big road, and closer to my musical instrument and pro audio dealers. Reflex remains the breadwinner and requires my utmost attention, but I am pleased to share that our other ventures are doing quite well. To quote Mario Andretti “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” So as much as some friends and family tell me I should slow down, I am in a comfortable spot with the new travel commitments. Each of our team members from all companies knows what to do and does not need or want to be micro-managed. My getting out on the road more often reinforces their “ownership” aspect of being part of our little ecosphere, and I will know instinctively when it really is time to hang up my cleats.
*A Little Background on Willie Loman
William “Willy” Loman: The titular salesman. The product he is selling is never disclosed. He is 63 years old, unstable, insecure, and self-deluded. He vacillates between different eras of his life throughout the play and re-imagines them as if they were the present. Willy’s age and deteriorating mental state make him appear childlike. His first name, Willy, reflects this childlike aspect as well as sounding like the question “Will he?” (source: Wikipedia)