Maps, Maps Maps
I had the privilege of meeting hundreds of small business owners, as many managers I suppose, and a host of mainly Buyers and other Executives, Vice-Presidents and Presidents of larger companies. Over a period of time, i responded to requests to advise the small business owners on their business or certain aspects of it. Most of them followed my advice, which for some of them included closing up shop. Sometimes it was renovating their coffee shop or just their menu, others it meant re-arranging their store shelves and their point of merchandise stands to get the best products sold. I considered it simple stuff, simple advise and as some years went on during my tenure of being in business for ten years, i realized i had developed a skill, or insight as to which business was “going to stay in business” i.e. meet the competition, develop a niche and have ample income from it and survive in the marketplace. I was quite good at it and that is what would probably happen to many people if they visited every community once a month or more and kept a keen sense as to what was happening in each community, and as a whole…..and what the changes and impending changes were. My product was a Mapbook, the small handy mapbook you could put in your glove compartment and pull it out and get to the page you needed to in a flash, put it down on the seat then at the next red light…..read it and know exactly where you were going and where the next or turns would have to be done.
I carried that mapbook for three months as a courier considering selling it…..researching how good it was, finding out exactly where it could be sold and where it could not…..and finally made a plan to get involved in actually doing it, selling it. It took eighteen months to build the business to the point i had first intended to do and the next year was stabilizing it with over 300 map titles, more than any other map distributor in British Columbia, probably Canada for that matter. I enjoyed the work, the goal and the increments involved in achieving the goal. Along the way, i studied more and more about business down at the Expo ’86 Site until i had practically memorized it.
I enjoyed the writing of proposals and presenting them to the Buyers…..and having the proposals accepted. I never cheated anyone…..at anytime and became known as honest, dependable, reliable, and someone with integrity. I was not greedy, nor over ambitious and always considered my customers needs as an equal priority or a greater priority. Having my customers and suppliers needs in mind, having a good memory, i either helped them stabilize their business or increased their business or their profits. I never made a lot of money as the margins in the jobber-wholesaler were tight, and low. The amount of money i did make, did not allow me to expand my business or to hire someone to manage it, while requiring small advances or adjustments to put what little extra earnings made, to be put back in the business. When trickery and crookery occurred in the map publishing and map distribution business, i definitely was affected and thus went into including greeting cards as extra products, but consequently kept most of my original 1350 accounts. It was like ‘bouncing back and still keep being in business anyway’. Still the income was low, but better and gradually i designed and made better sales marketing information such that the revenue afforded me to take an annual holiday. But first was paying the suppliers on time, and that was always done in the required timely manner.
My three holidays were to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and India. Thailand and Singapore to explore products to take back home and sell to the accounts. My goal was to sell one product in each account and make $1.00 from each product sold. I was into providing low cost items for the customers of my clients, Singapore was a good place to review what was available as it was the main wholesaler of South East Asia. Pencils and pens and pads were good items, however, they were already been supplied by another distributor and oddly as it may seem, there was not a single item that was not already being supplied in one shop or another in Vancouver. The variety was ‘already there’ in Vancouver. The only other option was to branch out and take a new product and start a new business with it.
Considering doing this, i selected from Thailand the cacke pants with the huge side pockets…..the price was right and no one in Vancouver was doing it, however, the fact was i did not want to start a new type of distribution business. Some friends had their own clothing manufacturing going on in a small scale and i knew how involved it and the selling of clothing was, on the small scale. Nevertheless, i returned the next year with the Citizen 12 Digit Calculator with 32 recall inputs….good for business and thought to do that after a next year return trip to Singapore before consolidating exactly what i was going to do. However, a new opportunity occurred when i returned from India in 1992 when submitting a proposal to a department chainstore throughout Western Canada was accepted.
I worked closely with the Head Buyer and sunk all my little profits into streamlining the greeting card distribution to his stores. I hired a secretary, paid her on time every month and freed up more time to focus on the responsibilities to this chainstore. Operating my greeting card distribution from my basement….a full basement, i purchased a series of racks to warehouse the cards and the bows etcetera and set up door sized tables for the receiving and order preparation, then hired a warehouse manager. When it came time for seasonal greeting cards to be sold, i talked with a high school girl next door asking if she or her friends might like some part time work. She brought some friends and those friends brought their friends to make a total of fourteen high school girls. All fourteen or fifteen or sixteen years old. I trained them and have to say “all of them were intelligent and got the job done exactly how it was needed to be done”. The business went on for two years, first through the set up and the test market of six months, then the streamlining for another year or so…..during which time, the Head Buyer invited me to the Head Office where all the Executive Staff greeted me with congratulations on doing an excellent job while stating “I was to become a millionaire”….. meaning i.e. at the end of ten years from then. This was without the pre-discussed expansion from four foot greeting cards racks to eight foot or even twelve feet of racks if this or that store warranted it, already approximately fifteen stores had such sales that definitely warranted it. Profit of one year had solid annual forecasts in my pocket of at least $150,000 after taxes and all expenses paid. I easily foresaw the personal funding of some kind of product into all my other accounts, and perhaps to this department store as well. The business, Pacific Rainbow Distribution Ltd was incorporated in 1992, a prior change up from Maps Maps Maps to Nathan Wilhome Distribution to Pacific Rainbow Distribution Ltd and was now next to being in a position to be what might be referred to as a “minor-major’ player in the local distribution business. The goal then was over the next two years to increase the product base and bring it to a net profit of $500-600,000 annually keeping the same 1350 account base. If i wanted to or had to sell the business, the selling price would be what it made annually as the net profit. I had already trained my secretary in all facets of the business as the manager of the business and i did not have to be present, she was that competent. Pacific Rainbow had a good reputation was a 99.98% non complaint track service record over its ten year period, but it did not continue as was forecasted due to multi-national corporate pressure which occurred at the specific point of the first order for the western canadian department chainstore, an order for $110,000 for that month….with a schedule to be that amount or greater every month thereafter. Without the order, i never made ‘money’ and was consigned to not bankruptcy but being broke after returning all the product to the supplier and sorting everything out so there were no debts due to the cancellation of the order. This was a major betrayal, but there was nothing i could do about it, and had to move on.
After a stint of two years in Networking……with some thirty-five or so multi-level marketing companies…..which i purposely went into to rebuild my sense of trust in ‘business’, i left networking as it was terribly expensive to be successful and there was no payment system in place with any company that was a fair trade for the amount of work done. Therefore, i went into painting as it was the least expensive trade to get into.
Eventually, i named the company Ocean Painting and Restoration. Just prior to it, i did a lot of Labouring…..for three years! doing everything from all kinds of roofing, landscaping, carpentry, some concrete finishing and then two years part time in antique restoration of old canadian antiques about 100-150 years old. The guy who trained me used to call me the “steel wool king”. Ha ha. The hard part of antique restoration is usually steel wooling the heck out of it, but ya, you do got to be good at it and do it the right way. He liked the way i painted i.e. did the staining, because i never made a drop. My favourite part was doing the sanding, then dust it really good and do the two coats of staining (or three coats), with sanding and dusting in between of course, then wax it once, then twice. Then don’t touch it.
Again, picking up a brush, with the new types of painting and construction tools and equipment, becoming in a relatively short time became a top quality painter…. trained by the Greeks mainly. Many of Vancouver’s top painters were Greeks. The guy who gave me my main painting pointer’s painted the Vancouver Art Gallery, usually he was doing commercial – high end office projects. Then there was the Irish guy who specialized only in high priced, high end custom homes and high, high end offices…..made his fortune to begin with in Japan, his company was hired from right here in Vancouver after they saw him paint a wall that looked exactly like glass. Some guys do really well dollar wise in painting and it takes hard work to build up the reputation of being a good quality, high end painter. I put myself as a third year apprentice level and would have/could have taken an apprenticeship course and got certified, but if you already are a good painter people can get jealous or concerned you will be their competitor, so i stayed as a Sub-contractor doing my own thing. Eventually, i employed four guys doing that……painted the interior of a medium sized apartment block and the parking walls and stalls and some restoration for another apartment block on my own, created a computer generated detailed analysis-spreadsheet proposal on another newer modern apartment block only to find the property manager give the project to another friend of a member of the board of director’s. That was a waste of three weeks! My preference became orientated to single family residences and preferred some kind of restoration aspects to it where extra filling e.g. on a wall was required, board replacement perhaps…..or some kind of woodwork, or fixing a poorly painted wall and area that would guarantee the customer’s happiness. I was a quick painter but not a fast painter. Other guys would usually finish 3/4 to 1 hour ahead of me if you added up the days of the week at the end of the week, however, i would never have to come back and fix anything, but they would. That was always “Thanks to the Greek Painter, Little Mike” (Michelangelo, i call him:)). As a subcontractor, jobs including my own included Industrial Warehousing and Offices, Furniture Warehouse and Offices, Distribution Warehouse Offices, Commercial Offices, Restaurants, Apartments and Condos, Apartment Block Display Suites, Staircases, Foyers, Metal Doors and all sorts of other doors, Kitchen Cabinet Resurfacing and Restoration, plus a special Antiquing of the kitchen of a luxury home. You know the price of houses has increased a lot, so much of the work was done on million or multimillion dollar homes.
As a young guy, i never wanted to do painting because of the smell of the paint getting in my lungs. Oddly, it was okay if i smoked cigarettes but i could not bear the smell of paint especially in an enclosed area. Unfortunately, getting ‘into a bind’, taking a job doing the ceiling and walls of house using the Zing paint, despite covering my arms and head, still the roller spray got onto and into my skin. Actually, soon after another job using the same paint, but this time the painting was in an historic building (which is why i took the job!), with only a four foot square window with a tilt opening, plus the door opened to the hallway and with a heavy duty fan to move the air. This was an old fashioned bathroom with a tiled wall with the same tiles on the ceiling….the job to paint both the ceiling and the walls. During the second coat, breathing in the ‘paint spores in the air’ i near nigh twice lost consciousness before completing the job. Every job has its time limit, so the perseverance is put up with to get the job done. This one resulted in coronary heart disease i.e. the heavy metals in the blood….becoming the blocks in all of the coronary arteries. You don’t know it at the time, but upon the reflection after the operation you realize what it is. Despite the reduction of chemicalized volatile oils in the paint, still i say that company still has dangerous paints and should be inhibited from doing business.
The Computer Advertisement Business
Some friends were making money online with about a million other people in a billion dollar advertising internet industry,, so with the heart condition and thinking the heavy hard work involved in painting wasn’t to my best advantage, i thought doing something on the internet might be easier. I began by designing a website for affiliate and multi-level marketing products where people could come to and use it as a resource center, basically for affiliate marketing. I called it Skydollars. One of its main resources was providing pretty well every online money provider payment companies….many of which Skydollars was an affiliate money maker. You don’t know everything on the internet and there was a lot of coming and going of websites and website businesses in those days of 2005-2006…..in fact there were quite a few scams. During the time of the construction of Skydollars, we had two Internet Money Providers turn out to be scams in one sense of another either in their late payment for their affiliates or they got hacked into and had their funds stolen so had to close shop. The other problem was affiliate programs were being sold and when you bought them i.e. some cost $500 or up to $1300 each…..their “code” would be missing or their links would break down, and thus the entire software program would never ever work properly. Never did find “the good one”, don’t know to this day if anyone has solved this riddle of ‘how to make the right affiliate program’. After paying my ‘tech person’ several thousand dollars where she acted as co-designer and techie, costs adding up to $15,000……..when some friends showed me how they were making money online in this almost unknown internet advertising industry, i switched efforts and joined them.
In this billion dollar advertising industry, the way it worked was very simple. As a participant, you had to have a website, on your website you had to either provide a product or a service, if you were an affiliate marketing service that was considered as an actual service. Many people had a product they were promoting i.e. selling, for example a product you might see in the store….they may have even been a manufacturer of it. Other people might be offering a financial consulting service, a real estate service or what have you. Whatever it was, your website was put on a Rotator where it would be viewable for 10 to 60 seconds. The person viewing it also had to have a website and have joined the company that was providing the advertisement Rotator. The timing of how long the website was viewable was determined by the advertising company. Many people wanted to have to view for only 10 seconds and a maximum of 2o seconds. If the viewer liked your product or somehow was interested in contacting you……then the viewer would simply click on your website and be taken / redirected from the “advertising company’s rotator website system”….to your website. Perhaps the viewer would purchase something or request the service that was said to be provided. Thus was the bona-fide application of this advertising industry, i.e. the product supplied. On the other side, “you” as a participant would be required “to view” a certain amount of websites for the required rotator time period…….completing the viewing of e.g. 50 websites, you got paid for doing so…..but your payment was based upon the dollar amount you invested with the Advertising-Rotator Company. Provided you held up to your end of the bargain, you got paid. There were literally hundreds of Advertising-Rotator Company’s involved in this business….from all over the world.
The payment was great, great indeed. For a short work time, you made excellent money. Dependent on the amount of money you invested you got excellent returns for your short work efforts. The return was 40% every 10 days. So, the rotator company held your funds for 10 days, the input to get started and the transference to your bank account after the 10 day ‘work-period’ was another couple of days….about two weeks in total before you had the money in your hands. Then you started again. Friends who had a lot of money to invest were making a lot of money…….and were being paid. The program had been going on for about six to seven months before i was introduced into it. If you put $10,000 into it, you made $4,000 in two weeks. It would take about 5-10 minutes per day of work if you were well organized, got into the Rotator Company’s website and did your viewing and then got off the internet. Some people caught on quick and invested such they were making $30,$40, $50,000 per month. At the point i entered the program, there were approximately 700,000 people investing in it. I had just started out with it. I was making $200 per day in 10 minutes a day. I was still ‘testing it out’. Then the “Business”…exploded and another 200,000 to 300,000 people got involved in the next month!! It truly had become a Billion Dollar Advertising Industry. It felt like the entire internet had woken up and had their own place to advertise…..plus make money at the same time!
Well, where there is success, there is a lot of money, money might attract crime….criminals who want more or criminals who don’t want you to make what you can. Suddenly, many of these Advertising-Rotator Company’s began experiencing difficulty in being able to get their websites up or continue to operate properly. A short time later, e.g. a week or so they complained of being hacked into and their website disrupted in one way or another……another week went by and some complained that their money provider account was not working properly and they were not able to access their funds……funds which included the payments due to the viewers, i.e. the participants of the program. Very shortly thereafter, i.e. another week and the viewer’s money they had invested was not being returned i.e. at the end of the 10 day period. As there were several hundred then about a couple of thousand such Advertising-Rotator Company’s to choose from to invest in and make the 40% profit plus return of their original investment amount……it was impossible to ‘know’ if the company you as a Viewer/Participant were going to have your Advertising-Rotator Company complain of them being hacked into as well. Another two weeks went by and it was seemingly pure luck if you indeed did get your money back and the company you dealt with was ‘not hacked into’. In a matter of six weeks, this hacking problem essentially frightened everyone. The thought was that ‘one of these Advertising-Rotator Company’s was the hacker and doing all the hacking……..during that fifth week new advertising company’s would open up, people would invest and even before a week was done, they would close up, disappear. You did not know who invested in it, how much….or what happened……as you never knew which company was legit or not, one group which had been heavily invested and had made good profits, opened up a “monitoring reference website” recording which advertising-rotator company “actually did pay out their investors and: exactly when”. That monitoring reference website became the go-to website before considering any further investment. Some phoney websites were designated as just that……therefore got no further investment, other websites were considered legit because of their continued payout/payback to their viewers/clients/workers…..but it all came to a grinding halt, a spectacular crash when the major payment provider itself was hacked into and all the millions of dollars it held……were stolen. Then, the second major payment provider was also hacked into and most of the millions being held there were also stolen……unbelievably they discovered the theft while in process and shut their entire system down……saving several million dollars and payed out thousands of people on a pro-ratio basis. So……that was the end of making money on the internet for many……and me. Well, not quite….about a year passed and a friend informed me of what he was doing and was making ‘a lot of money’.
That whole advertising industry went through a tremendous amount of questioning. The common way to speak about it was the Russian Mafia had hacked it, but no one knew anything for sure. The other thought was that the US Government did the hacking and kept quiet about it………the supposed superficial reason was that the government did not want you to make money and not pay any taxes on it. This was an “unregulated industry”……and that was what was so attractive to it …..in other words you paid no income tax i.e. unless you voluntarily wanted to. I was undecided as to what to do about that so i designed and made up an accounting system to keep track of all my earnings. It made no difference for me because the profits i did make were eaten up by the other 14 hours a day i spent searching on the internet to qualify which ‘program’ in this advertising industry was “actually working”. As a company, you pay yourself at least some kind of wage…….whatever profit i made went into that ‘wage’…..therefore i say i made nothing in the end. A short six weeks anyway.
Because of the ‘regulation’……new programs exactly in the same manner re-started, re-surfaced but in order to qualify the question of de=regulation and regulation i.e. investment criteria, people who had done well in the industry gathered together and vetted the SEC -Securities Exchange Commission investor’s qualification requirements so they were not breaking “the law” or any law…….and in fact hired the Executive Director of the U.S. SEC as the operator…..of what was basically the renewal of the same industry. Again, six months later “they” were closed down and the matter went before the courts. It was another year or so before things were actually sorted out……with the verdict that the people won and the government had to be release the funds. My american buddy did very well and he was jubilant about the end result.
At that time, the offshore world started designating certain types of investment applications to certain countries as being legitimate tax haven countries that were where internet and e-commerce was understood internationally legal, for instance Belize became such a country and Lombok in Malaysia. I am sure in one way or another Singapore and Hong Kong are as well if one kept quiet about it. For all i know the Internet Advertising Industry is once again a billion dollar industry, i’ve lost track of it in 2007.
I thought delivering papers would give me some walking exercise and fresh air….versus sitting at a computer desk all day and half way through the night. Here, i would walk for money to pay the bills. The workday started at 1:00 am getting up, driving to the local distribution point and loading the car up with the papers for the route, then going and delivering them. It took three weeks to learn the route perfectly and decrease the delivery time from 6 1/2 hours to 4 1/2 hours. Eventually, i did two routes, plus extra delivery for missed deliveries….therefore the delivery day continued often till 9 or 10 am. I computerized my own route lists with a larger font size to make them easier to read and figured out a way to correct deficiencies in the routes which made the adjacent route and my own route more easier to do so that missed deliveries would be minimized. Midnight-Morning paper delivery guys ( and girls) i call the brave ones because they get up early, really really early everyday…….and it is seven days a week with only a day off on a statutory type of holiday……in all weather rain or shine or snow or deep snow or icy road. They are either brave or foolhardy……or both because working every day month after month is not healthy and takes a certain toll on you, your health or your spirit. As they say, even God took a day of rest and took a sabbatical.
Alongside the morning deliveries, i took an extra work delivering the local newspaper. It had an early morning route, basically to be done by 10 am so i was able to accomplish both the early morning route and the late morning route. Then took a position doing substitute routes i.e. substituting for a regular delivery person while on holidays or having their own sabbatical for awhile. This was the walking route, done in the afternoon. Often it finished in the early evening when the ‘advertisement section’ and the ‘real estate section’ were integrated with the regular deliveries. This occurred about every two weeks for advertisement and monthly for the real estate section.
I used to say these two things doubled or tripled the workload and reduced the pay by 75% due to the extra time involved putting the extra sections inside the regular newspaper. Analyzing the waste of paper and the amount of trees which were killed to make the paper was a million trees per year just for the real estate section alone. I say waste of paper after doing a personal survey of ‘exactly how many people’ read the real estate section. Arriving at the door when a homeowner being there or a neighbor or both, i would inquire as to whether they read the real estate section when it came. “Straight into the garbage bin as soon as it is in the hand” was almost the same exact words from almost everybody. Some said they would read it once or twice a year and others said they read it about every three or four months ‘quickly’ just to see what was there. About one to two percent they did read it, although they never made any use of it or called a realtor who advertised in it. I put it at 3% readership to give the amount of readers the better of the doubt, but really it was half of that at best and more likely 0.5% to 1% readership. In fact, the articles, their content and the quality of the writing was so poor the actual readership of the local newspaper was 3% in most areas but to give it a top possibility i put it at 5%-8%, including pickups of it at the libraries and business spots. Again the comment “Straight into the garbage bin as soon as it arrives…..that’s where it goes!” On top of it all the pay for the kids amounted to what i called slave labour and double slave labour when the advertisements and real estate section creating extra time to insert each one into the regular newspaper…….and double the weight of the load of the paper. Some of the office people were paid, no doubt about that….including a few in the warehouse. Some brothers used to operate the warehouse and apparently did a good job. They had left a year or so before i began picking up there. The person in charge had no clue how to do it properly resulting in the pick up of the papers there a pot luck disaster. It resulted in a constant change around of staff i.e. delivery people every couple of months except for a few who could not find work anywhere else. Late van delivery always resulted in door to door delivery newspapers being late because by the time the kids or delivery person got the papers, they were already late. Again constant turnover there too. The wage or income for the kids was so bad they would be lucky to make $5 per day or i.e. $40 per month i.e. that’s $1.00 per hour. Slave labour i call it. The van delivery amounted to not much better. Asked about it by a new aspiring to be branch manager i.e. a manager who is in charge of about ten other drivers, i responded: “You come with a new van or new car depending on who you are and in a year your mileage with have increased such that your vehicle will have depreciated to a point you can never truly say you made any money at all. And you will have wrecked your interior no matter how you think to protect it because the pressure of the job will make you make those kind of mistakes. Practically every other dollar you make will go for the cost of fuel and oil changes. If you have an older vehicle the same thing will happen. The only way to have a marginal benefit is to either have an older vehicle to use or save up and buy an older vehicle with the intent of not keeping it but running it into the ground and disposing of it when you decided to not do it anymore. Your cost of repairs will take your money away and the gas will take most of the rest away. Your income will be temporary but within six months or a year, you will see you haven’t really made anything, just made a bit for existing expenses and paid for repairs. This will tire you and you will quit. The parents of the kids will quit because sooner or later they will realize the meager amount their child is making for such hard work……and say to themselves that this is not good for my child’s discipline as their reward belittles their every effort.
When you first begin doing delivery for the local newspapers, you don’t realize all these things. The mid morning route i had done was formerly done or not done at all…..the pick up of the route papers were certainly done, but it was a mish mash hit and miss type of delivery with no consistency whatsover, often a person would not receive a paper for 3-4 months. I soon learned the person did the route on a rotating type of schedule and did no more than an hour to an hour and a half of actual work…….then hurried off to their personal job where they made their actual money. The fact was this route was delivery to the local businesses, or shall i say ‘supposed to have been to the businesses’.
I decided to clean the route up and make consistent deliveries. My first surprise was there was no address list and no one in the management knew where the businesses were or whether they ever had a newspaper delivered to it…….well they sort of thought they knew but they had never checked other than responding to the occasional complaint that no paper had come for months. The previous deliverer i have to say was pretty wise to have minimal complaints i.e. delivering only to so many customers then anticipating how long he could get away with not delivering before a complaint would arrive, then make the delivery before the complaint was actually made. To top it off, the number of papers was not enough to deliver to each business on the route for the area. And, to begin with the warehouse distribution manager refused to supply the needed amount. Unbelievable, eh?
So to solve the issue, i made a computerized businesses list of all the businesses who should be receiving the newspaper, described the host of other issues indicated above and handed it in to the warehouse manager. He got upset and wouldn’t deal with it, so i presented a second copy to the head office and to the owner. My survey and all. The warehouse manager was fired a few months later, saying he retired. The president called to thank me as she wasn’t aware of the issues. Sure, i thought….meanwhile receiving awards year after year as if it was the best news-rag going. When the owner sent responded with a letter, it had the usual: “acknowledged you letter and will look into the matter as soon as possible”. In the meantime, business customer after business customer began telling me that never had they ever had such good service. I didn’t tell them i had to sneak extra copies from the warehouse garbage bin to bring to them, or anything else. Why? Because everyone knew that the newspaper was content was done so poorly, it was the only one they had and no one would do anything about it because they had been complaining for nigh on twenty years. So how could they expect any change. Well, i wrote a different letter to the owner. The only thing i can say is that the content has been ‘brightened up akin to the way the competitor was writing their content………which at best has made the reading of it ‘bearable’…..sort of, and i say ‘sort of’ because all media in Canada is controlled by only a few people, and is mostly lies and disinformation: at least its content is more organized. To befuddle the reader more!
At that point, i had also taken a weekend job acting as a relief manager for an apartment complex….working afternoon and evening on Friday, then cleaning Saturday mornings and was on call 24/7 until Monday morning at 10:00 am. I was working 18-20 hours a day and getting tired, so i quit when an opportunity to do real estate came along.