Distribution Business Experience…..Pacific Rainbow Distribution Ltd.
- 1987-88 DBA (Doing Business As)….Maps, Maps, Maps
- 1989 DBA…..Nathan Wilhome Distribution
- 1990-1998 Incorporated Company: Pacific Rainbow Distribution Ltd.
Greeting Card Lines…..1994-1998
- Image Craft Greeting Cards, Gift Wrap & Bows & Invitation Cards; Seasonal Cards……imported from Cambridge, Ontario.
- Spirit Art Cards…….Imported from Michigan.
Map Distribution Agreements……Main Agreements
First Verbal Agreement with Norm Reeves, Vice President of Mainland Magazine early July 1987. Note, sorry cannot remember Norm’s surname, he has since passed over.
Vancouver & Region Street Directory.………1st Map-Book of Vancouver which was Published by the Jimmy Pattison Group, was for Expo ’86. Started business with this one mapbook.
- Not to sell or provide maps to Mainland Magazine Accounts wherever they are; was not given a list of their accounts.
- Purchasing of the Map-Book to be at 40% of the retail price, payable by check or cash at time of pick up to designated Accountant; purchasing to be calculated at the 4th digit level from the retail price of the Map-Book.
- Contact him personally if he could be of any further help.
- Contact him in two weeks, then in one month and thereafter when necessary.
Starting of the Business….Maps Maps Maps
- I provided a cheque for 10 Map-Books to Norm, then returned 2 days later to purchase 100 more. I was requested by the Accountant to meet Norm again to be granted allowance to purchase such an amount; apparently the previous purchaser did not fulfill their costs and had bounced several of their cheques.
- Norm granted the purchase on assurance the cheque would not bounce when cashed the next 2 days later. I had given the first 10 map-books away as a promotion to business owners, then with the 100 map-books in my car returned the next day and each business owner bought 6 or 10 Vancouver and Region Street Directories.
- I deposited the funds to make both cheques good.
Second Verbal Agreement with Norm Reeves, Vice-President of Mainland Magazine, mid July 1987.
- I requested that norm allow me purchase the map-books in 100 amounts and be given 7 days to pay. He checked with the Accountant and gave 2 weeks to pay for whatever amount of map-books were purchased.
Third Verbal Agreement with Norm Reeves, Vice-President of Mainland Magazine, August 1987
- I had purchased and paid for 600 map-books and Norm called me to his office. He increased the payment time to 30 days and if time was needed to have 45 days, and from then on to see the Accountant.
The Rand McNally Line of Maps (all U.S. State and all main City Maps) and The Allmap Line of Maps (all Canadian Province and all City Maps)
- In September/87 Norm called me to his office and offered to provide me at the same discount of 60% the Rand McNalley Line and Allmaps Line of Maps if I wanted. Mainland Magazine was the main distributor of maps in British Columbia.
- Once 1500 Map-Books were sold (from July, Aug to mid-September, I returned in September and requested to see the Accountant to have the payment time increased from 30 days to 45 days. I also purchased certain Rand McNalley American City Titles and Allmap BC and other Provincial and Canadian City Titles. I was “given” a $2500 credit limit as well, and if more was needed to see the Accountant again. Eventually it rose to $12,000 per 45 days. And i was never late on a payment.
Vancouver Street Directory…….this was a larger version by another publisher than the smaller mapbook: Vancouver & Region Street Directory published by Pattison.
- Norm called me to his office in November to offer me access to purchasing the Vancouver Street Directory, (another Map-Book but larger than the Vancouver Street Directory)…..as I had by then secured approximately 800 accounts from Horseshoe Bay to Hope and was purchasing 2000 Vancouver & Region Street Directories/map-books per month since September. He acknowledged i had not sold or serviced any of Mainland Magazine accounts despite being requested by 80% of the vendors to do so due to the discrepancy that Mainland Magazine’s delivery policy was to over-stock the vendor. My policy was to never overstock any vendor and gauge their monthly need……with calling me should they sell out or wish more product. Delivery for extra product was done the same day or next day. I declined his offer for now until researching the market more thoroughly expressing the Vancouver & Region Street Directory (the smaller mapbook) offered competition to the Vancouver Street Directory. The Vancouver & Region Street Directory…..which was the main map that in my opinion was not only a better map-book but also gave me exclusivity as a provider of Maps. And that the competition also had access to the larger mapbook: the Vancouver Street Directory.
- In December, i received a call from the publisher of the Vancouver Street Directory offering me exclusivity of the distribution of his mapbook. After discussing it with Norm…..Norm agreed that my purchasing of the Vancouver Street Directory be done directly through the publisher and not necessary to be done through Mainland Magazine…..however, pick up of it would continue to be done at Mainland Magazine.
- Writing many proposals to all the main chain stores, meeting the buyers it occurred no other independent business person one to that point had brought map proposals to the Chainstores. After four months, once all the buyers had agreed to purchase the Vancouver Street Directory, i was informed that the my competition had interested the publisher with a purchase of a single cash allotment of $35,000 worth of the mapbook……and was thenceforth given all of the existing Chainstore accounts to service. First lesson in the map business: pay attention to the intuition when not to get involved. Nevertheless, i provided many of the other mapbook titles that were available through Norm.
Distinctions in the Map Business
- First independent map wholesaler/jobber to develop accounts in all the Major Chainstores. Total accounts including Chainstores: 1350 accounts.
- First person to Develop An International Map Presence in the Greater Vancouver Lower Mainland and in BC
- Only Map Distributor to provide over 300 Map Titles
- Only Map Distributor to never overstock an account
- Only Map Distributor to receive a 99.98% non-complaint track service record over a ten year period.
- Only Map Distributor to be offered the exclusivity of distributing maps to all of the Jimmy Pattison Group’s – Great Pacific News within BC – after providing a Map Distribution Proposal for BC. This would extend my account base to 2600 accounts.
- Offered Exclusive Distributorship by Outdoor Recreation Maps. Gave it to ITMB (International Books and Maps) owner Jack Joyce on the provision that: a. He develop more maps for them when the opportunity arose, and if possible update existing Outdoor Rec Maps (which he did a very good job of. b. that he always provide me a good, fair price for whatever amount i wanted to purchase and sell only to me, unless i agreed to allow other map distributors to do so also. Like a good guy, he continued to respect this.
- Offered Exclusive Distributorship of The Transit Guide by BC Transits Marketing Manager, Terry Jaycox. Accepted the distributorship on the provision that the purchase price the following year would be lower. This lower price never arrived so in the fourth year, the equivalent amount of the amount of the difference between the existing price and the lower price which should have been paid to me…..that same amount due to BC Transit was never paid to BC Transit, and no more service was given for the Transit Guide. In the meantime, was Commended by BC Transit Board of Directors each year for providing the best service of The Transit Guide since its inception some twenty-five years hence. Commendation was also for doubling, then tripling and popularizing the Transit Guide’s account base……which formerly has existed only at “all libraries” and a few outlets e.g. The Vancouver Board and Trade Office and The Greater Vancouver Tourism Centre (downtown Vancouver). Also provided computer generated list of accounts and sales reports to the accounts on an updated annual basis. Again, never overstocked any Transit Guide account e.g. Safeway or IGA.
- Offered exclusive ownership of The Vancouver & Region Mapbook (the smaller one) by the owner…….but could not afford to take up the offer. It had occurred that i had sold more of the Mapbook than all the 42 Driver-Salesmen of Great Pacific News….the exclusive and only other distributor than myself. He had a heart condition and wanted a way to support his wife financially if he died. By mistake,…..the management at Great Pacific News informed the owner of Allmaps, from Toronto and owner of Allmaps of Canada and primary distributor of Rand McNalley Maps…..that the Vancouver & Regions Mapbook was for sale. He did not disclose this to me when i met him for a meeting at his hotel when he came to Vancouver…….he said he was interested in me being his exclusive distributor other than the Jimmy Pattison Group’s Great Pacific News. In confidence i shared with him my plan to buy a van, put advertisement on it and distribute maps to all the main cities and towns in BC. He gave me the confidence he would provide the van and a small warehouse space, and a secretary. I was soon to be going on holiday to SE Asia/Singapore and we agreed to meet when i returned about three or four months later. When i returned, he had purchased and become the owner of the Vancouver & Region Mapbook, had hired someone as his main distributor, whom he supplied with a small warehouse space and a secretary….and had been offering a 50% discount to what myself and the Great Pacific News Group offered to our customers for the Vancouver & Region Mapbook. Consequently, on the phone with him, he argued that he thought i was not coming back to BC!!! I responded: why did you not try to contact me? The managers at Great Pacific News also said they had been betrayed by the Allmaps owner and apologized for involving him with me, i.e. arranging the meeting with him at his hotel. Due to diminishing accounts unable to keep the loyalty of the account due to the extended undercut price by 50% for the mapbook and discounts also for the Allmaps and Rand McNalley maps……..and who could expect a business owner to not switch their loyalty, especially at the gas stations,……in return, the managers offered me the same verbal agreement with the maps, and to have my choice of: Videos, or Batteries, or Greeting Cards. Due to the fact videos at the time were hardly popular and my lack of interest in movies in general…..and the margin on the batteries being necessarily less buying from Great Pacific News, greeting cards were chosen.
- Offered the exclusive distributorship of Map Arts of Toronto. The owner called me after he heard ‘through the grape-vine’ of what happened with the owner of Allmaps. I had previously called the owner of Map Arts as he had a few titles i was interested in. I declined his exclusive offer but informed him of the actions he had to take to be successful. Some months later, he found someone in Abbotsford to become his distributor so he called me back to know he would offer maps at a low price for me. I thanked him and did not purchase any maps from him.
- During the time of the map business, was never late in payments as agreed upon……however, on the rare occasion when an accounts receivable with a chainstore was late in paying e.g. large amounts, this consequented notifying an accounts payable, e.g a supplier, the due amount was pre-arranged it would be arriving as soon as the chainstore paid.
Distinctions in the Greeting Cards Business
- Reviewing and critiquing 5,000 greeting cards, selected 1200 for best opportunity in sales. Of these 1200, allocated Art and/or Text changes to 450 cards, then sent them to the supplier…..Image Craft Greeting Cards. Was immediately invited to their printing operation and introduced to the Head of the Art Department to receive news that 325 suggestions i had made were being implemented as we spoke. Image Craft cards were $1.00 cards i.e. retailed at $1.00. I had decided to deal with Image Craft because the cards quality were in my opinion equivalent to Hallmark or Carleton Cards…..were better priced for people with marginal incomes. It was a good decision because it turned out the Partner-Owner and all the people in the Head Office were good people with high integrity and honesty.
- The result of the new 325 cards, once on the market shelves immediately increased sales all across Canada. For instance, the test market i had operational in 115 Department Stores throughout Western Canada had an agreement that if five items (whether greeting card, gift wrap or bow or invitational card) were sold, then this would be considered a success. The first six months of the test market achieved 16 items sold per day. When the new 325 cards were on the greeting card racks, sales immediately doubled to 33 items sold per day. Similar and even greater sales occurred with distributors particularly in Ontario and The Maritime Provinces, with apparently one distributor becoming a millionaire in less than six months.
- Image Craft was happy, the Distributors were happy and so was the Buyer and the Head Office of the company which i was dealing with. The only unhappiness was with the competition……which immediately responded by offering large cash dollar amounts upfront to existing retail businesses to “not deal with Image Craft Products” and deal only with them. They did this all across the country at the expense of millions, tens of millions of dollars. Guess who it was?
- Later, two years later an advertisement appeared in the Vancouver Sun Classifieds for a buyer of a greeting card company in India. Out of curiosity, I called and met the person….a distinguished, elderly gentleman from Bombay (Mumbai)…..and heard his story. His company was one of the three major greeting card publishers in India. Agreements were congenial between all three companies. Suddenly, the previous year, Hallmark came to India and offered to purchase all three companies. Two did not respond, including this gentleman as he said “they were not honest or forthright with their intentions”, plus his company was operating very, very well….and his son was set to now take over the business completely. The one company that did sell out regretted it soon after the sale as Hallmark began publishing greeting cards “not suitable to the Indian Greeting Card Market”, and resulted in upsetting the entire greeting card industry in India from which it has never recovered. Hallmark exported their cards to North America where it began selling cards at a $1.00 to compete and dominate the Image Craft market share.
- How did this happen? It could have been that after going to Toronto…..on Bay Street, to meet with the Hudson’s Bay Head Buyer and present two lines of greeting cards……namely the $1.00 Image Craft Greeting Cards and The Spirit Art Greeting Cards & Posters line,……they because he liked them and was interested to purchase them…..meaning order them and set them into their 88 Hudson Bay Department Stores across Canada……it could have been that when he took made the initial order, it was “stopped by the President of the Hudson’s Bay Company”. In fact, the very next month, the Head Buyer….who was to retire the following year was given early retirement. The replacement Head Buyer never made the purchase, and continually made reasons in following through with the purchase order for the next eight months, then finally cancelled the order….she said upon directions from her superiors.
- My deal in waiting…..was with a sister company of Hudson’s Bay…….for its first major order for the 115 stores within its organization. This company was set to profit (after labour costs associated with ordering, receiving, and stocking the greeting card rack) approximately $400,000 to $440,000 per year. I had actually been invited to their Head Office to be congratulated on all my good work done and told that i was going to be a millionaire. It had taken two years of constant 7 days a week work….refining and double refining specific requests by the Head Buyer to help them make more money. The first “monthly”purchase order was set at a cost of $110,000……when suddenly the entire Head Office Team, including the President, Vice-President and Executive President were fired, with one of them shifted to another position under the new President……who was brought in from another sister company where he held the position as a Regional Director. These were orders from the Hudson’s Bay Company President in Montreal, Quebec. The result of the Head Office Team i was dealing in resulted apparently one suicide, another with a nervous breakdown which caused an apparent early death just after the next year, and a heart attack in my Head Buyer. The new President built a wire-caged, door locked entry meeting room – about 24 ft x 36 ft – (and caged in the top/ceiling of the meeting room as well) in its recently acquired new warehouse, then promptly cancelled contracts with 75% of their product lines across the board. Great dissent occurred from existing suppliers who had been loyal, good suppliers for over 20, 25 years….aka the wired caged door locked entry meeting room. My product, the Image Craft Greeting Card Line which was set to make them $400,000 net profit (aside from administration of purchase orders and payments) per year – without expansion i.e. a 4ft. rack was to be increased to an 8ft. rack in at least 20% of the 115 stores i.e. the company would have made approximately $600,000 per year…..it was discontinued. Of question was also when the new President prior to the discontinuation requested that i absorb the cost of the GST they had to pay i.e. 7%. This would have amounted to a loss of $92,4,000 to myself per year based on the existing monthly order amount, but was an illegal request according to the legal guidelines of the GST Rules and Regulations. Not only was it an unfair request, but also an illegal request which i could not submit myself to and if i did, i would be committing crime. All, meaning “all” of the Store Managers of this company had reported that they wanted the Image Craft Greeting Cards to “stay in the store because for the first time in years the customers were coming specifically for the nice cards at a price they could afford”, and the spin off of existing and new customers coming to the store for greeting cards and gift wrap who also purchased other things has also created new income for the store.
- Years later, we see two major events with Hudson’s Bay. Their sister company, Zellers, was sold and purchased by an American Company: Target. Target after two years closed its doors and now close to 18,000 people are unemployed. The Hudson’s Bay Company has also been sold. No one sells a company like Hudson’s Bay without planning years in advance. Observation indicates that with the Multi-nationalist year after year continued buy out of company after company then merging and re-emerging as a major conglomerate……is a control operation to gain most if not all the existing marketplaces in the country. When contacting the President of The Hudson’s Bay Company and querying him as to the New President’s actions knowing full well the net profits to be made…..as it was ultimately he who held final responsibility, he replied “I stand by his decision”.
- It is true that had the Head Buyer of The Hudson’s Bay Company had retained or stayed in his position and completed the purchase order for the Image Craft Greeting Card Line, millions of cards monthly would have been bought by their customers in the first year, and i would have become a multi-millionaire. If the Spirit Art Greeting Card Line and Posters were ordered….being of regular price at $2.50 per card, $8.00 per poster…….in 88 stores across Canada,……being said and agreed by the Head Buyer, that they were the “nicest greeting cards in the entire market place”…..they would also have been a great addition to their several different lines of greeting cards, in fact much better than the Hallmark and Carleton Greeting Card Lines. The Head Buyer expected them to sell out in the first month. The purchase order for one month to be $105,600 ($1200 per standing rack). Sales would have made myself a millionaire and the Spirit Art company owner a multimillionaire.
- Image Craft held true to their integrity in a high level and offered me a kindly, almost no charge fee of $5,000 for returning the stock to them from the 115 stores. I collected the stock from the company’s warehouse and the 11 test market stores, re-organized the stock and re-shipped it back to Ontario. Prior to the sending of the stock, i was visited by their best national distributor who had just become a millionaire as he wanted to see first hand how i was able to make $0.06 cents profit per card or item and he was only making $0.01 cent per card or item. He also wanted to personally thank me for the re-design of the 325 cards which had increased his personal sales so much. Later, the Partner-Owner came after the shipment to share my grief and offer me to be their BC Representative as he appreciated my organizational and sales ability, and sense of responsibility and honest ethics in keeping him informed of each stage of the business. My particular sadness was no longer going to be dealing with such good, high calibre business people. A month later, I declined his offer as the BC Representative as i felt it just too much to “start from scratch again” given the sense of grief I was feeling over the “decision” by the new president of the company i was dealing with. The Greeting Card business must be a tight, well known “grapevine-like type of business” because within the same next two months, I received 18 offers from various U.S. companies to be their BC or Canadian Distributor.
Activities and Responsibilities in the Map and Greeting Cards…..
- Develop and Secure Accounts
- Service and Merchandize Accounts…….become a retail-counter space merchandizing expert
- Direct Sales
- Corporate Sales to Provincial or National Chain Store Company Buyer Representatives……Write and Present Approximately 100 Proposals.
- Negotiate Supplier Prices, Terms and Set Up Supplier Accounts
- Negotiate Account Purchase and Ordering Terms, Conditions and Agreements.
- Design and Develop Advertising Material: Logo, Business Cards, Invoice Sheets, Flyers, Sales Presentation Booklets, Route Delivery Sheets, Warehouse Organizational Sheets.
- Develop Store Manager Ordering Directions & Merchandizing Sheets for Stocking-Replenishing Display Racks for Maps & for Greeting Cards, Bows, Gift Wrap & Accessories (Invitational Cards, Seasonal Cards).
- Design and have manufactured Map Products Wire Stands and Map Dispensers, and negotiate terms of purchasing.
- Research and Purchase other Greeting Card Wire Racks.
- Direct Computer Graphic Designer in Designing the cover of the major map book for the city.
- Access and provide Cost Analysis to Negotiate Cost Prices, Volume Discounts, Payment Terms.
- Design Warehouse System. Purchase and install metal shelving, build desk-platforms and shelving for maximum efficiency in order preparation and packaging for shipping and delivery. Coordinate product receiving at company’s or stores warehouse.
- Purchase Computer. Take computer courses for computerized bookkeeping purposes. Determine allocation of Customer Account Codes for Customer Accounts, Supplier Accounts! • Upgrade computer system and install accounting-product software from Accpac to Business Visions….a software which could hold up to 40,000 products and generate Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly and Annually…..Supplier Reports and Sales Reports, etcetera: Product Purchases, Accounts Payables, Account Receivables, Payment Reports.
- Advertise, Screen, Check Background and References….hire a Secretary. Train Secretary in most all aspects of the business including computer/accounting input and generation of reports, corporate communication and liaison with suppliers and buyers.
• Hire Warehouse Manager! ! • Advertise, Screen, Check Background and References…..hire and train Warehouse Manager to receive all stock and supplies and prepare orders for shipping and /or delivery
- Hire Seasonal Staff. Interview, screen, hire and train 14 part-time seasonal staff for: Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter, Mother’s Day Seasonal Greeting Cards.
- Train 115 Department Store Manager’s!. Design specialized Order Sheets for Greeting Cards, Bows and Gift Wrap, Bows and Invitational Cards. Create Stock Direction Sheets explaining simplified methodology of unpacking boxed supply order of Greeting Cards, Bows, Gift Wrap, etc. and additional ordering sheet for next order, time of order, etcetera. Train by telephone & fax, 115 store manager’s to read and understand ordering directions then guide them in dividually filling out of order sheet, and stocking of Greeting Card Racks on timely basis.
- Hire Sales Account Representative. Hire and explain business operatives and objective sales account to develop accounts.
- Service and maintain accounts.
Notable Major Map Accounts
- Hudson’s Bay
- IGA – also Greeting Cards
- Price Smart/Save On Foods
Independent Grocery Stores
- Super Value
- Other Independents – host of local corner grocery stores
- London Drugs
- Shoppers Drug Mart
- People’s Drug Marts
- Rexall Drugs
Convenient Store Chain Stores
- Seven-Eleven (Southlands, Inc.)
- Mac’s Convenient Stores
Cigar & Smoke Stores & Newstand Chain Stores
- United Cigar
- Sheffield & Sons
Bookstores Chain Stores
- W.H.Smith (Airport)
- Coles Bookstores (Downtown)
- Duthies, Manhattan Books, and their Technical Bookstore on West 3rd Ave.
- Most every Second Hand Bookstores
- University of British Columbia Bookstore
- Simon Fraser University Bookstore
- Vancouver City College
- Kwantlen College/University (Surrey)
- Vancouver Library
- All Libraries in Lower Mainland
- Chambers of Commerce
- Vancouver Board of Trade Tourism Centre
- Major Hotels: Vancouver Hotel, Georgia Hotel, The Blue Horizon
- BC Ferries
- Host of Small Businesses, particularly local grocery stores and independent gas stations.
- Vancouver and Lower Mainland (Horseshoe Bay to Hope)
- Vancouver Island (Victoria to Campbell River)
- All the Gulf Islands
- The Okanagan – Osoyoos, Oliver, OK Falls, Penticton, Summerland, to Kelowna, Vernon, Sicamous, Canoe, Salmon Arm, Chase, Kamloops, Merritt, Lytton, Spencer’s Bridge, Boston Bar, Yale, Hope.
- The Kootenays – Osoyoos, Rock Creek, Midway, Greenwood, Grand Forks, Christina Lake, Cranbrook, Castlegar, Creston, Salmo, Nelson, Nakusp.
- The Interior – Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Cache Creek, Ashcroft, Lilloet, Whistler, Squamish.
Operating Line of Supplier Credit
- Operating Line of Supplier Credit inclusive with both Map and Greeting Card Suppliers of $125,000 per month or 45 days or 60 days depending on Supplier.
- Consistent, timely on time accounts payables over ten year period.
- Commended by all accounts for providing best service by any prior map distributor, known for integrity, honesty, dependability, reliability and excellent problem solving.