Thursday Thoughts: Value-Driven Business

I got a call from this fine, older gentleman yesterday. He’s the real deal – what some would call a relic from the past. I call him a terrific representation of the values that built business in this country.

I know Gene as the Fuller Brush Man. He came to our door regularly selling cleaning supplies, always impeccably dressed, extremely polite and well-mannered, with a free spatula or cleaning brush for my Mom to try out with her order. I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t selling Fuller Brush supplies, and he said that he knew my father, who has been dead since 1974, so that makes it 37 years (at the very least). After my mother died, I bought supplies from him, even though in today’s world, you can buy less expensively most anywhere. I just wanted to honor his dedication to his craft. I never knew much of anything about Gene, except that he drove a great classic 1962 Chevy, which he kept as clean and well-maintained as was consistent with his own personal image.

About 2 years ago, I stopped hearing from Gene. Periodically I would wonder what happened to him, so I was relieved to receive a phone call from him a couple of days ago. Gene told me that he had moved to Colorado (closer to his brother’s family, I think). When I asked about his health, he told me that he had suffered multiple strokes after having a heart valve replaced, and was experiencing some dyslexia as a result. But Gene wasn’t complaining, he was just explaining. He went on to tell me the reason for his call – to give me a toll-free number that I could use, not to reach him, but you guessed it, to order Fuller Brush supplies. And at age 85, he wanted me to know that if I chose to, I could make sure he gets credit for the purchase by using his dealer ID.

I know I’ll do just that – order some Fuller Brush. To honor someone who epitomizes pride in profession and person – Gene Barbie. Hey Fuller Brush – you have a real salesman there…