Chapter #2-The Corporate World
So, like most college kids in the mid 90s you went to college to get a good job that was standard back then and keep in mind, the Internet was a new thing back than, it was a big deal to have email in college and when we did research, we still did it in the library.
My 1st job was a Plant Manager Trainee for a company that was based in Chicago, but had a plant in Wilson North Carolina, the company was Wallace Computer and the plant I was training in was a label printing plant. The program was pretty intense. I basically had to spend time in working in all aspects of the plant, including running a press, shipping, scheduling, accounting, quality control, planning, etc. to groom myself for the next level up.
I lived about 45 minutes from the plant where I worked and was renting a place on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Aside from the 8-5 job, this was pretty much a 2.5 year extension of college for me, except that I had a little money, and I had to be at work on time every weekday. Needless to say, I made the most of my extra couple of years of college going to all the home ECU football games, and many of the away games, and the weekends were certainly fun.
One thing that had always been interesting to me was how my ECU roommate was always into his computer, I honestly felt like I was behind the times almost from the minute I left college. Even though I worked for “Wallace Computer,” the company was far from a computer company, aside from the basic computers on the presses, the entire company was still run with paper and scheduling boards. With this new Internet thing, and year 2K on the horizon, by working for a traditional printing company technology was passing me by quickly and I knew it.
After a few years learning the ropes and all facets of the plant, I was promoted to a Customer Service Manager. Ironically the position was in St Charles, IL (my howntown) for another label division of Wallace Computer call Lampro. This was a great move for me back to spend some time with my parents and some old friends, and I really learned how to manage and handle customers properly, but I was never really satisfied with the $30K or so salary I was making.
So, I began to look elsewhere for a higher paying job, I had experience and and was doing well with Wallace but I knew the open market would bare more $$, and I was able to land a customer service manager position with Newell Rubbermaid in Rockford IL at around $48K, a pretty substantial increase back then!
This was a stable job, with very strict rules and the same deal managing a team of reps and handling customer calls. The most irate calls would fall on me as the manager. Sitting in a cube all day with the phone constantly ringing, writing up 50 year old women for being late got old pretty quick and so did a small town like Rockford IL.
After 2 years a move had to be made. I really didn’t like my job, I was driving to Chicago 60 miles southeast every weekend back and forth because I was not feeling Rockford any more. I had started my MBA because I knew the world was passing me by in terms of technology. I finished up my MBA and decided the time was now to make a move into a different world of uncapped income, the world of sales!!
Well since I had experience in printing, a natural fit was printing sales. I took a pay cut to work in downtown Chicago to learn sales for a company named Merrel, long story short it wasn’t the ideal situation and the money was terrible for a downtown Chicago position. Just like any decent sales job it takes a couple of years to really build up any sort of clients that will get you a decent payday.
So i jumped from there to the suburbs to a company called Hagg Press and had pretty good success there, except for the the 60 minute drive in traffic both ways, so after less than a year there I ended up at FCL graphics about 15 minutes from my Chicago residence. I was able to bring a few clients along with me and had a nice run there for a few years and had my sales up to almost 2 million. One would think at close to 2 Mil in sales you would be killing it, but the percent was weak on that volume and I was only making about $50k a year on that. It wasn’t right and I knew it.
The next move a combination of a couple of things I left to work for a print broker and I had been working part time on weekends as a head door guy for a nightclub in Chicago and was asked to help get people into the club by a friend, a couple of the other door guys and I, did just that, however; we killed it and packed the house. A promotions company Surreal was born, and soon we were pushing parties at nightclubs once a month and then once a week, then 2 days, and week, and so on.
I started making more in this business than I ever made selling printing. Originally, it was three of us doing the promotions, and eventually one guy wasn’t pulling his weight and two of us rocked out 4 nights a week for a couple of years. Eventually, it became clear that I was the face and most of the people were coming out to party with me. Plus, I had learned the back end of the business, website, etc. and was doing the majority of the work, so with a small cash offer I basically pushed my partner out around 2004.
With the promotions company rolling the printing business fell apart, I held on to a few accounts, but most of the money I was bringing in was coming from the events, to the tune of 6 figures!