Better to be Lucky Than Good!


On October 15, 1783, the Montgolfier brothers of France became the first humans to ascend from earth with a plan to return. Their hot air balloon, made with the help of wallpaper manufacturer Jean-Baptiste Réveillon, escaped gravity to the full extent of the 80-foot tether before returning to terra firma.

All under the watchful eye of King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette.

On October 15th, 1878, the Edison Electric Light Company formed as a corporation. One hundred and forty-two years later Edison Electric, GE as we now know it, is still one of the 25 largest companies by revenue, in the United States.

On October 15th in 1939, New York Municipal Airport opened to commercial air-traffic for the first time. In 1953 it would be renamed LaGuardia Airport after the popular former mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia. Pulling in to the 680-acrea airport bearing his name, the former mayor was quoted as saying, “There is NO goddam parking anywhere around here!”

Wait until he sees what passes for a food court!

On October 15, 2008 the Dow Jones industrial average had it’s second worst one-day drop in history. Dropping 8% in a single day while wiping out over $1.1 trillion in value, the drop marks the beginning of a difficult recession for paint dealers, and the rest of the country.

And on October 15, 2019, I signed the contracts on a transaction 112-years in the making! I sold my family’s 112-year old New York City paint supply business, Tremont Paint.

I like to take credit for the fortuitous timing, but it’s better to be lucky than good!

Retirement?

Hardly. But enough changes that there is little left in my business life which is recognizable from my paint dealer days. Significantly, when the alarm goes off tomorrow at 6:00 AM it’s my fiancée Gaetana, who is grumbling as she climbs out of bed.

Which I hope she does quietly since my first appointment is still three hours away.

And upstairs!

Friday I plan to drive to my old store for the first time in two-months. I’ll get there at lunchtime and buy my former teammates an order of chicharrons from El Malecon! I have lost 10 pounds since I sold the stores. Likely because you can’t get great chicharrons like these in Stamford!

I go to pick up the mail which still trickles in for me. By now it’s mostly garbage. But on each trip over the last six-months, the mail has yielded a few hundred dollars. Stragglers! From the slowest paying customers of Tremont Paint.

But since October 15, 2019, that drive has not felt like a commute.

Making it far less painful!

Cutting Lose the Anchor

A dealer called me last week and asked for some advice regarding an employee who has been less than exemplary. After listening to the situation and the efforts they’ve made to correct some troubling behaviors, I shared my view that if what they’ve done already has not corrected the situation, it’s likely that nothing would. He agreed and decided to terminate the employee.

It was the right decision.

Says the man who didn’t have to wake up early the next day to open the store because I had just fired a key-holder.

While I recognize these and other upgrades to my life since selling my stores, I still find it hard to look back on the year that has passed with some sadness.

My great connection to the paint business has always been my family. On the anniversary of selling my stores I find myself spending time thinking about my father, who passed away in June of this year. I wouldn’t know how to measure the amount of time we shared in our Broadway store over the years. Enough that when I walk through the door on Friday it’s him I’ll be thinking of.