In November of 1998, I received a call from Bob McKamey at Custom Tackle Supply in Tennessee. Bob said that he had a friend there that wished to speak with me if I had a spare moment. So we spoke. The manâ€™s name wasÂ Tom Greek and he said he had a business proposition to discuss with me, in person if possible. I agreed and was somewhat surprised when he said he was leaving Tennessee at that moment and heading my way. Said heâ€™d see me in about 6 hours. True to his estimate, he arrived in just about that time and we left together to discuss his proposal over dinner.
Tom informed me that he was an insurance salesman but was looking at a new business to help fund his retirement years. It consisted of an organization for professional custom rod builders that would act as a collective advertising and referral service for its members. Tomâ€™s idea centered around the fact that the individual custom rod builder couldnâ€™t possibly compete with the marketing of the mega manufacturers. But collectively, he felt the custom builders could effectively compete. He told me that heâ€™d been kicking the idea around for a while but had no means for launching his idea or reaching the rod builders. He said that RodMaker Magazine was the key to getting his idea off the ground and asked for my involvement and help.
I agreed to help him at no charge. In the Volume 2 #1 (January 1999)Â issue ofÂ RodMaker Magazine, I launched the Custom Rod Builderâ€™s Guild to the general rod building public. As planned, Tom Greek followed with a referral advertisement in the first quarter issue ofÂ Sporting Classics Magazine. Referral requests poured in. Another collective advertisement followed and again, referral requests poured in. So many, in fact, that Tom felt inundated and fell behind on sending those referrals to his members. Towards the end of that first year, he turned over the task of forwarding the referrals to Winston-Salem rod builder and organization memberÂ Mike Bolt. Mike was quickly buried under some 400 referrals that had never been forwarded to the members. And by that time, those referrals had gone stale. Some were over 10 months old. A tremendous opportunity had been missed.
Tomâ€™s idea had merit. So much so, that it had exceeded his expectations to the extent that he felt his this present business occupation didn’t allow enough time for him to operate the very organization he had hoped would carry him into and beyond retirement. Â Shortly afterwards, during one of our usual Sunday morning telephone conversations, he told me it was time to back away from the referral service – the very core reason for launching his organization. He was calling it quits.
Tomorrow – The death of one idea, the birth of another.