“Any exceptionally successful person who does not think that good luck is the #1 factor in their success is a pitiful creature.” – Tom Peters
2001 - 2021
In April 2001, I decided to try my luck at starting a company. As my father pointed out to me at the time, I had a well-paying job with good benefits. I was leading a great team of people whose hard work led to success after success. We were pushing the envelope on print-mail technology as well as new ideas on what was expected from an in-plant shop.
The team had been fortunate to have the expertise of industry consultants to assist with the original structure of the department. We were able to build on the consultants’ work, but having that foundation was important. Perhaps other companies could benefit from similar consulting help. Especially if the consultant had actual experience leading an award-winning operation.
My idea? A consulting firm that specialized in the print-mail industry and was independent of any manufacturer or vendor. The Berkshire Company.
My wife supported my dream and helped me turn it into a reality. A marketing professional, she guided me through the branding process. First, we chose a name. One of her colleagues designed our logo, and she introduced me to a website development company. In 2001, professional expertise in web development was rare and costly. My wife even volunteered to maintain the website, which required special software and skills (and many, many hours).
Of course, I hadn’t anticipated the bursting of the “internet bubble” and the subsequent economic downturn. I had no experience in sales, so I immersed myself in books and recordings. But I was striking out every time. Luckily, a friend who believed in my vision convinced his company to hire me for a small engagement. This first consulting gig gave me the confidence boost to keep going.
Other friends followed suit with recommendations and referrals. My contacts in different Postal Customer Councils and Mail Systems Management Association chapters would invite me to speak to their members. The National Postal Forum allowed me to present classes every year. Other industry associations also gave me the opportunity to take the stage at their meetings. Over the last 20 years, I’ve given 397 presentations to more than 27,000 attendees.
I learned that the consulting outcome was better when there were two people involved in the process. Several friends were willing to take the risk and become part of the team. In 2005, Barbara Knight agreed to work on one project, and stayed for another 7 years. Similarly, Jeff Jordan said he would give consulting a try, and then agreed to stay. In 2019, Wendy Thomas joined the team. That same year, The Berkshire Company began a partnership with Lois Ritarossi of High Rock Strategies, combining our expertise for clients.
For over a decade, Lisa Magnuson of Top Line Sales has been my sales coach. I knew Lisa was the perfect coach for me when the first assignment was to map out my sales process. She taught me – and continues to teach me – how to improve my processes. Lisa is more than a resource, she’s an integral member of our team.
The real luck has been the clients that hired us. Not the companies, but the people who work there. People who appreciate the professionalism we bring to the process and the long-term relationships we form. We’ve shared work events and personal experiences. Conversations that have ranged from the best methods to presort mail to the birth of grandchildren to the loss of a parent. These friendships are an embarrassment of riches not entered on any company ledger.
I’m thankful for every gesture of support. From attending classes, to asking me to present, to hiring our firm, to agreeing to be part of the team. This journey has taught me so much, most importantly how much I rely on others. Some people have come and gone, while others have been here every step of the way.
To everyone - Thank you.
Twenty years on, and my luck is holding out. Guess it’s time to try for twenty more.