Friday, October 13, 2006

The Martians Have Landed

149 The Martians Have Landed

This is unfair to Martians. To smear them with what you’re about to hear, that’s really libelous. But they won’t sue.

This is about a guy named Rod Brady, who had some kind of terminal degree where you thought you should call him “doctor,” and he could smile and say “just call me Rod.”

At the time, Rod was the head of Bonneville Broadcasting, which is owned by the Mormon Church and run from Utah. They had a radio station in Manhattan. Corner of Madison and 52nd.

Rod was new on the job, and he went around the country to all their radio and television stations and had staff meetings. We never had staff meetings before that. Now, we had staff meetings, seminars, all kinds of great wasters. Apparently, out there in the boonies, they have time for all that.

Rod gets up at the meeting and he says “I walked here from my hotel and saw maybe 200 or 300 business on the way, and thought ‘those are 200 or 300 businesses which probably don’t advertise with us. We should get their business.’”

Harvey was there. He was a salesman. Very successful. Just sorta smirked at the comment. Gordie was there. He was a salesman. Very successful. Just sorta rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. Ed was a salesman. Very successful. Missed the meeting. Was out somewhere, selling. Or maybe at the movies.

Dr. Rod? He taught us a thing or two, having had the experience of visiting New York once with his family and now, in the second day of his two-day “getting to know you” tour.

All this happened in the mid 1980s. By the late-1980s, Rod and the California ditz (can a guy be a ditz? Yes.) Anyway, Rod and this ditz put the very successful operation so deep into the hole they never did get to dig out. Ditz got fired, the station got sold, Rod was kicked upstairs so he could work his magic on the church’s other businesses.

They didn’t get New York and didn’t get that they didn’t get New York.

So if all this happened decades ago, why tell the story now?

Because it’s happening again.

K-Mart/Sears, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s have opened “design offices” in Manhattan.

All three weren’t accustomed to and couldn’t believe that the Big Guys of Seventh Avenue wouldn’t come out to the sticks to do business with them. They couldn’t believe it for so long that went it continued not to happen they figured (they always do this) “who needs ‘em. They were astonished that the top guys not only didn’t want to go to Arkansas and Minnesota and Michigan and Illinois, they didn’t need to.

Half the manufacturers who do business with Wal-Mart are in effect captive subsidiaries. It was simply stunning that someone – anyone – said “no,” and survived.

So Wal has a suite of offices. Two floors. Walk through Wal’s and see if you think they get it. Ditto the other guys.

When those leases are up, they’ll renew them once to save face. But somewhere in the middle of the renewal term, they’ll sublet the space and get out. And no one will notice.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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