Sorry, This Got So Long!
Fall weekends in Columbus are a family favorite. Family, friends, football and the opportunity to load up on MORE Buckeye swag!
It’s like Halloween for adults! Only no candy, I'm on Keto!
Those that read the lines of this blog regularly know that I’ve added a lot to my plate over the last 10 months. Those that read between these lines also know; something had to give.
As you read this, I’m in the final stages of selling my two stores; Tremont Paint Supply. Soon, for the first time in over 112 years, there will be no Lipton selling paint in the Bronx.
This is not news to ME of course.... I’ve been working on this plan for months. Still though as I write this, I find myself lingering a bit, staring at the words to give the tears time to form.
I struggle to describe the emotions of getting out of a business that has supported every Lipton since the Kaiser ruled Germany!
A journey which began in 1907 when my great-grandmother Esther earned her first profits from paint, 13 years before she had earned the right to vote, has come to an end.
This has been an emotional process for me. Tremont Paint is a powerful force in my and my family's history. None-the-less, I led myself here and am thrilled with the outcome I am about to share.
The blogging and podcasting were not part of the original plan!
I wrote for the now defunct Paint Dealer magazine for decades and had no thoughts of doing more with my writing. Had they not closed in December; I would never have started blogging you would not be reading this now.
Funny how life goes.
I’ve shared with you several times on this blog the respect and admiration I’ve acquired for the new CEO of Benjamin Moore, Dan Calkins. We started working together a bit in late December and a relationship developed from there. Here’s what I feel makes him unique among the Benjamin Moore CEO’s I’ve known (which btw is all of them): when you talk about the paint business with Dan, his first question or comment is always about dealers.
That’s the right attitude. And one long overdue from a person sitting in that chair.
Across the span of countless conversations with Dan, I shared a vision that I had for creating a programming channel for independent retailers. Premium content designed to further independent retailers’ knowledge of their own stores as shopping destinations and as businesses! I wanted to help independent retailers achieve, maintain and grow their stores; profitably!
I think he liked my ideas!
A few weeks back, Dan and I agreed that Benjamin Moore would sponsor my podcasting for a year, to give me the opportunity to explore what is possible in the arena of making content for independent retailers. I am looking forward to the opportunity and challenge. Of course, I have a plan for all this content and I plan on sharing that plan.
Today though, is for something different.
In addition to a year’s worth of podcasts on topics designed specifically to help dealers grow and prosper, I will also be consulting with Benjamin Moore on other communications issues specific to helping Benjamin Moore and their retailers understand each other better.
Dan jokes that he “gives me two-weeks” before the bureaucracy of their large corporate structure breaks my spirit. Funny, that’s about how long I give Dan until he’s sick of me and my big mouth.
We shall see!
I will have a lot more to say over the coming weeks about the transition I am making; it’s a big one! But for now, I’d really like to address three groups of people that are now and have always been integral in my life: Independent retailers, the employees of Benjamin Moore and my family. For the last 10 months, they’re all that have been on my mind (other than my Yankees and Bucks)!
For Independent Retailers:
Some of the very finest people I have known were independent retailers including over a dozen members of my family who worked for Tremont Paint. The thought of not owning a paint store anymore (my family owned a dozen of them over the years) makes me sad. It’s far too late in my life to see myself as anything other than a paint dealer.
But while I enjoy my time as a dealer, I was always the type to stare out the window. I didn’t just want to play in the world outside, I wanted to change it! The activist I am by nature, combined with a deep rooted connection to independent retailers and a writer was born. Now, after 30 years of using my writing to try and bring change, I believe that I can make a bigger difference to a larger number of dealers by expanding my format and putting myself in this new position. For 30 years I’ve been writing to advance your views and make myself and other independents stronger.
I plan on continuing that work.
As I've shared this news with people over recent weeks, I have gotten the question: “Will people think you are selling out?”
I’m sure some will.
There will always be haters in the world and nothing can ever make everyone happy!
But no one who knows my heart would ever ask that question. In reality, it’s far more likely that I’ll get fired for the frequency with which I speak my mind than I become a corporate “yes-man”. Those who know me well have been faster to express concerns for “poor Dan” than any concerns they have for me forgetting my roots.
They’re wise to feel that way! I didn’t write and advocate for dealers for 30 years to shut up NOW, when finally the right people are listening!
The second group of people I’d like to address are the employees of Benjamin Moore. While not coworkers (I’m just a consultant), we are still family.
That’s not new, we always have been!
When former Benjamin Moore CEO Maury Workman (his name was a fixture in my youth) would address groups of dealers and employees he would say: "it's Benjamin Moore and Company, and you're the company!" referring to all of us in the Benjamin Moore orbit: dealers and employees.
Over the coming months you will start seeing me in the halls of Montvale. When you do please stop me and introduce yourself! I’ll be the one in the Benjamin Moore swag and maybe a Buckeye cap! Share with me what you do for dealers and Benjamin Moore and I’ll share what I am up to as well. While I’m sure that accepting “an outsider” is difficult I ask that you allow me to join your ranks briefly; I am not an outsider at all! As you continue to do the outstanding work for dealers that many of you do, I hope I’m able to share my experience on the dealer’s perspective and I hope you allow that perspective to make our work better. As Benjamin Moore continues down its path of customer centricity, I hope that having a dealer among you helps light the way.
And have no fear for your job. I want to be clear: there is not a single job, title nor opportunity within your company that I covet or desire. Dan has allowed me to build my dream job among you and that is the only job I plan on doing.
And of course, no blog of mine would be complete without mentioning my family.
When I meet people, I get a lot of questions about my writing: where do I get all the ideas from (an overactive brain), how do I get information that at times seems like no one else knows (sources) and even once in a while “why do you bitch so much about your family?”
Bitch? I think they missed the point!
My family (my daughter Miranda and fiancée Gaetana) not only ARE the joke, they GET the joke! They are often found at the sharp end of my quill: it’s where they belong! Miranda is almost 22 years-old and when she was last home in August, I had to teach her how to use the thermostat!
It took longer than it should have!
But that’s all the stuff that you know. Here’s what you should know, but may not.
These two girls are the air in my lungs. If that’s not clear in my writing, then you’re reading it wrong! I’ll admit, when it comes to making fun, they’re easy targets, but that’s where the joke ends.
When Miranda was growing up, we solved all her problems sitting on the couch! During long nights crying, l listened through the tears about the boys that failed to notice or the girls who failed to care. I still remember times she would come home after dealing with a day of adolescence: walk in the door and say "COUCH!" It's where we kept her world from spinning out of control.
And my world too!
It was on that very couch that she and I together over months, hatched a plan to bring much-needed change to my business routine. It took us months to build a plan (which lead to me exiting my stores: though the gig with Benjamin Moore was unplanned). Her wisdom continues to impress me, daily. When I find myself lost in the fog, it’s thoughts of her that are my beacon home. She is my bold. Much of this transition I am taking on was done to teach her the lesson that we are in charge of our own destinies!
And there's Guy.
Everyone should get an opportunity to experience true love, it’s the foundation we all stand on!
Years after my divorce, I had come to hate Match.com! Grabbing a name from the hat like that and taking them out on a date was not my thing (it was also expensive and time consuming for a single dad). I had had enough bad dates to write a book and was ready to shut my account down. At the time of that frustration I was only speaking with one woman anyway. Not realizing that in the online world, when you’ve had enough you just disappear, I sent her message saying I didn’t like the site and was moving on. I included my phone number and said she could call; if she liked; with no thought that she would. We had not met yet, we were not invested.
But she called!
And seven years later I can’t imagine life without her. She trips on EVERYTHING; it’s hard not to laugh! And she’s got a lot of really annoying rules around the house (which mostly I break) but not a day goes by that I’m not grateful that she called. I am thankful daily for her presence in my life and her support as I ripped my life apart. Without her support I would not be able to take on a transition like this which such confidence. Like I said: love is the foundation we stand on!
With these two behind me, I am able to stand tall.
In the coming weeks, on my blog and page on LinkedIn, I will continue to share more information about what I am up to! It’s an exciting time for me, I think you’re going to love what I have planned.