Nov 21 2016
To the many customers who joined us in 2016, thank you, sincerely, for the opportunity and for putting your faith in us. To the many customers who have been with us and continued to turn to us in 2016, I remain deeply grateful for your continued trust and belief in Wald Imports. We are blessed to have the opportunity to help our customers succeed.
This time of year it's natural for the mind to turn to considerations of what is really important, what really matters. We're all in business and too often business is reduced to the ideas of revenue, dollars, the bottom line. Yes, those numbers have to be healthy, but our businesses are more than just that. Our businesses are also a means by which we help others survive and reach their goals in life. We help our customers serve their customers. Their customers, in turn, help others and the success passes down the line. How well each of us does as a business always comes back around to how effectively we help one another.
It's an idea that reminds me of a story I want to share with you.
A while back, a long-time customer of ours became ill and their business began to suffer. This person was the driving force in the business, so sales suffered and after a short time, they were not able to pay their bills, including what was owed to us. During this difficult time, our customer had the good fortune to receive a large special order, an order that would substantially correct the financial crisis they were facing, but their current delinquent status with us and other vendors, gave them few options and meant they might not be able to take advantage of this critical opportunity. This customer called us and explained the whole situation and we decided to extend them terms on the new order, so they would be able to fulfill their business-saving order.
I was happy to be able to do this for them—not least of all because I know we're in business to help our customers succeed—but also because I instantly recognized it as an opportunity to pay forward a critical kindness that was afforded me at a very difficult time in my own life.
My brother founded Wald Imports 43 years ago. He built it into a very successful, thriving operation through his intelligence, his energy and the sheer force of his personality. Then, thirty years ago, he fell ill with cancer and, after a long fight, in 1988 he died. He was my older brother, my partner; he was the rain maker for our business. I was young and inexperienced. I remember being very scared and feeling very alone. I had a young family to support, and without my brother there to lead the way, our business was suddenly in dire straits. We fell behind in all payments to vendors, including a large amount to our landlord. Finally, I got up the courage to call him and I explained the situation.
The landlord listened to me, let me say my piece; let me tell the story that was obviously difficult. When I was done I didn't know how he would react. He paused only a moment and then said, "I understand and I believe you." Then he said he would forgive the entire amount that was owed, and he wished me luck.
As I write these words, I have tears welling up in my eyes. This man, who didn't even know me personally, offered me—a young husband and father, a grieving brother, a scared business owner suddenly on my own—exactly what I needed: a huge gift of badly needed kindness. He would have been in the right to take from me—after all, I owed him the rent. But instead of taking he chose to give and I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. It is because of that act of kindness, and many, many others over the years, that I wanted to help our customer in their moment of deepest need. I know how it feels to be desperate and alone.
In my time at Wald Imports, I have seen extraordinary amounts of kindness and generosity and that has allowed us to build the company we are today. I am deeply grateful for my opportunities, and the wonderful people I've had the good fortune to know. I'm thinking about them all this Thanksgiving and I hope you all will take a moment to think about the people whose kindness and generosity you're most grateful for.
Life and business can be so very, very stressful, and I find it comforting to know that as long as you have love and kindness in your heart and in the soul of your company, you'll probably be OK.