WANTED: Man, Young
Wise old age gives an up-and-at-'em sales force a lesson in the fine art of snaring the business hare
A. DEFORD PITNEY
OLD DAVE WINYARD sat in his worn but cosy chair, his slippered feet laid comfortably on a stool, the lamplight falling agreeably on his book. Old Dave was reading one of his favorite romances— the kind in which he lost himself, a yarn of far-off, heroic days, archers and two-handed swords. One of the most sympathetic characters in this tale was a grim old man-at-arms, forced to get into harness again and to make wisdom and the bitter experience of many battles compensate for slower foot and duller eye.
The story was in full action now. Dave’s eye was glistening. A rain of arrows was glancing from steel headpiece and shield. The fighting men, sword or axe in fist, W'ere moving forward to storm the battlements. Mrs. Winyard came in from the kitchen of the apartment.
"You’d better go to bed, Dave,” she suggested. “You want a good night’s sleep.”
“That’s so. It’s half past ten.” Dave got up slowly and grunted a little as he put his weight on his legs. “Martha, if I have to go out of town don’t send this book back to the library. I want to finish it. It’s a good one.”
To mark his place he put between the leaves a slip cut from a newspaper. It was an advertisement in a two-column box. Old Dave read it over, standing a moment to hold it under the lamplight.
WANTED—A MAN Under 30
Old established concern in the building construction field has an opportunity for a man. He must have had experience in selling large units, and have a wide acquaintance among construction engineers.
He must be a student of building problems and have expert knowledge of economics as applied to building. He must have a personality that will impress important men, and must have a record of successful selling. The man we visualize is between twenty-six and thirty years old and can bring to our organization the vigor and bounding optimism of youth. Interviews by appointment. Call or write P L McNab.
With a shrug, Dave dropped the clipping into his book and put it down on the table. Mrs. Winyard was looking at him almost tearfully.
“I saw you reading that again, Dave. Why do you keep it?” “Naturally they seek a young man to build into their organization and grow up with them,” said Dave philosophically. “Nobody is advertising for white hair and wrinkles. The opportunities ask for youth.”
“That’s what the advertisements all say,” moaned Mrs. Winyard. “Wanted, young men under thirty. Want man, twentysix. Want man, must be young.” “Don’t worry, old girl.” He put his arm round her thin shoulders. “I’m man enough yet to stand between you and the world.”
Dave Winyard had meant to retire. The house for which he had been a salesman for many years had let him go with a banquet, a testimonial watch, and speeches about long service, unswerving loyalty and value of men like him to a firm. But when stock market wiped out Dave’s son, nearly all Dave s bonds had gone for collateral to save the young man from ruin. Dave had had to go back to work then to try to redeem his savings, or at least to keep a roof over his and his wife’s head. The old firm had filled his place. ^ With all the kindly expressions in the world, they weren t able to make use of him. With everybody else it was the old story—“Wanted, young man.”
At last Dave went to R. B. Kranz, years ago a rival salesman with a competing house, now a partner in a new concern. I* or the sake of old times Kranz had told his sales manager to put Dave on somewhere.
Alone at home, Dave sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the wall. His wrinkled cheeks and pouchy eyes were sombre. How many hundred times had he packed his bag in that room; how long he had been on the road. He had thought it was over, yet here he was, back again in the army. And he had to crash through; had to make good or he and Martha would become wretched dependents. Back again with the heavy grip and the sample case, going wherever he was sent. And this time it certainly would be no choice territory. He would get what no one else wanted.
TT SEEMED horribly natural to roll out in the morning A at seven and eat the rapid breakfast which Martha prepared as she had done for years. It was just the same as always to be going down with the workers’ rush on the car. The difference was the new concern. He rode up in the elevator at twenty minutes past eight.
■ Dave was well and soberly dressed and looked like a man of importance. But there was no disguising his white hair, the sagacious wrinkles round his jowls, and his elderly man’s figure and gait. He was the first in the salesmen’s room. He took a seat at a desk on which there was no name-plate and began to ruminate over some of the house literature. Mr. McNab, the sales manager, was in his office, rustling through his mail.
About a quarter to nine other men began to drop inbustling, loud-voiced chaps. Dave looked them over and decided that some of them had the appearance of being good material. Several spoke to him kindly and introduced themselves. One of the last to arrive was a young fellow who had started in the business with Dave's old house. He had always treated Dave wflth great respect over there. Now he shouted a loud, surprised greeting.
“Well, hello, granpa! If here ain’t the old man. What are you doing here? I thought you had gone to the old soldiers’ home. Are you selling for us now?”
“Yes, at least I’m going to try and take a few orders,” replied Dave.
“Have to do better than just take a few orders here, granpa. You have to be a go-getter. Granpa remembers when they used to visit the country trade in a horse and Fuggy, don’t you, granpa?”
“I remember when you were a stock boy and I took you over my knee and gave you a paddling,” observed Dave. “I can even remember back when young men had some manners and respect for their elders.”
There was a slight snicker at this. The object of rebuke merely laughed loudly, said, “Don’t get sore, granpa,” and went on to his desk.
Mr. McNab came out of his office door. “Well, if you are all here we’ll have the morning sales conference now. Make it snappy.”
Dave gave ear. In the old house no man was big enough to make a habit of reporting later than eightthirty when in town. In the desk at which he was seated Dave found a pad of blank paper. He took out his fountain pen. He was used to taking notes at conferences and digesting them later into a permanent reference file. Some of the other men observed the old man’s humble eagerness to show attentiveness and zeal.
This conference was loud and fast. Dave covered less paper than he had expected, as none of the salesmen apparently had prepared an analysis of an important call or had items of information to contribute about conditions in the territory, new uses of the products, or competitors’ activities. It was more of a pep meeting. The men vied with each other in exhibiting virile enthusiasm. McNab summed it up at the end.
“What Nonco wants is drive—power! It’s force that makes sales. Never slack up on your drive. Never lose a chance to mention Nonco. Eat, sleep, and dream Nonco. Everybody right in there all the time, on his toes, head down, digging to put it over with all his personality and all his power. That’s what crashes ’em down. Mr. Winyard, come to my office in a minute.”
' I'HE city salesmen were putting on their overcoats. A The out-of-town men were getting ready to dictate their reports. Two of them had ducked down to the soda fountain to get breakfast. Dave quietly stepped over to the chief’s door and tapped.
“Come in, come in!” shouted McNab. “Never mind knocking when I am expecting you. This is a live-wire organization. We work fast and hit the line hard. Our middle name is ‘Snap into it’.”
‘ I was just admiring the spirit of your young men,” commended Dave politely.
“We haven’t much time to spend around here admiring ourselves,” replied McNab crisply. “What we want is fast action and results.”
“Of course.” Dave had to agree with his boss. “The essence of fast action is to be at the right place at the right time. But you sometimes have to work a little indirectly on a big contract.”
“Old-fashioned stuff.” McNab brushed Dave’s thought aside. “All out of date. That’s the way salesmen talk who want to stall around and save their legs. No chance for any of those antediluvian methods in this organization. You are with a snappy outfit now—all young men and right on their toes.”
“So I see,” replied Dave meekly. “I have been in this business a great many years, probably before the youngest of your assistants was born. I have been studying what we have to offer that may entitle us to consideration over other products. We are in a highly competitive field I realize—”
“That’s an entirely wrong attitude of mind,” McNab corrected Dave impatiently. “All wrong. You’re off on the wrong foot to begin with. We don’t admit there is any competition with Nonco.”
“Very well.” Dave gave up. Every word he said, this man, who was young enough to be his son, took out of his mouth and set him right.
“That’s better,” McNab’s manner indicated that he was having a hard time educating Dave. “You want to get the Nonco idea if you expect to stay here. Now I’ve got a job for you, and your future with Nonco depends on how’ you handle it. I’m going to send you down to Springvale to get an order from the Brackett Construction Company and I’m not making any secret of it—I expect results.”
McNab looked after Dave disgustedly as the latter walked out in his methodical, unhurried way.
“He’ll flop on the Brackett trip, of course,” said the sales manager to his assistant, who came in by the
other door. That 11 make it easier for me to get him out of here. There’s no place for deadwood in this department.”
The Brackett Construction Company was known to Dave as one of the most important of the independent structural steel fabricators in the province, but he had never contacted with it. Asking the file clerk for the folder, Dave found out why McNab had offered no information. There weren’t any call reports on Brackett.
“What, are you going to try them?” asked the girl in surprise. “I thought they had given that up. No one has ever even been in the purchasing agent’s office. We’ve tried our very best men on it. Mr. McNab sent Speed Ellicks himself down there last spring and Speed only talked to the P. A. half a minute across the rail. And you know that when Speed couldn’t get in—”
I see. Dave thanked the girl. He ordered his transportation on the night train, and spent the rest of the day in the stock room and in getting up to date on building statistics.
“Old putterer,” grumbled McNab, seeing Dave, glasses on nose, taking books from the library clerk or bending over folders of government reports, his fingers smudged with the dust that had accumulated on the files.
TN THE evening Dave packed his war-worn grip, the x old reliable black cowhide bag.
I didn t think I d be doing this so soon.” He cringed a little as he straightened up his back. “Martha, better give me that book now and I’ll slip it in here before I foi'get it. Like as not I may have to spend a night in the hotel there.”
Down to the train, half an hour after midnight. As Dave turned his ticket over to the white-haired conductor, the two old-timers nodded grimly at each other. The old trail again.
In the clammy dawnlight Dave climbed down the Pullman steps. No taxicab was waiting, so Dave patiently lugged his grip and sample case to the local hotel, where a yawning night clerk personally conducted him up to a sepulchral room.
Several hours later, in the hotel dining room, which originally had tried in a feeble, spiritless way to give an imitation of metropolitan style and had long since given it up, two men were languidly gazing at their pale coffee and diluted orange juice.
“Who’s this old boy coming in?” asked one as Dave’s white hair and fatherly waistcoat appeared in the door. Dave recognized them as travelling men and came over to their table.
“What, you with Nonco and trying to break into the Brackett Company?” said one of them after Dave had told the waitress to do her worst. “I’m Ellicks. I used to be with Nonco, got a better offer from Saveall. You’ve no chance here.”
“Nobody has,” added the other man. “We’re here as a matter of form.”
"I’m going to give this bird just two seconds to turn me down and then I’m going to get the train for Milton. That’s only an hour from here and I won’t lose the day. My name is Speed,” declared Ellicks.
“Who does he buy from?” asked Dave phlegmatically.
“Nystrom, the purchasing agent, has a pet—
Billings of the Rexcote Company. He’ll be along here in a month. Nystrom will make out the order, and old man Brackett will O. K. it.
Nystrom is hot for society and Billings plays him that way. I don’t think there’s anything crooked about it, but nobody else has a look in. You can’t possibly go over Nystrom’s head. Brackett won’t see anybody.”
“Rexcote is good paint,” allowed Dave.
“You’d better not let McNab hear you say that,” advised Ellicks.
“Of course Rexcote is good paint.
So’s mine. The difference is in getting an ‘in’ there and using your personality. How are you going to do it?”
“If you can’t break that fellow down, Speed, nobody can,”
acknowledged the other man. It was apparent that neither of them considered Dave a competitor.
All three took a cab to the Brackett works after breakfast. The office building was a new, up-to-date, cement structure. In the large reception room on the ground floor, a superannuated clerk with a white mustache sat at the desk and took their cards. He got up and hobbled with the aid of a heavy cane to the door that admitted to the inner sacred shades. He came back in a minute regretfully announcing that Mr. Nystrom would be engaged all day.
“But look here, uncle,” exclaimed Ellicks wrathfully, “we’ve come here all this way. Can’t you lean on that stick once more and ask him if he won’t give me a minute or two anyhow?”
The old reception man gave Ellicks a glance indicating that he did not relish the title “uncle” or the reference to his infirmity. But he politely said he would take in the request. A moment later Mr. Nystrom appeared, impatiently walking ahead of the old man who shuffled along after him. Mr. Nystrom was erect, slender, light-haired, cold-eyed and immaculately dressed.
“I sent word that I was busy,” he said without preamble. “There is no use your taking my time. I am not going to buy anything. You can’t tell me anything I don’t know already about your products. I have made up my mind where I am going to order—and that’s all.” He clapped his hand on the desk to give emphasis, glared at them a second and then strode back the way he had come.
Ellicks and his friend started for the front door. Figures of speech hinting at a canine family background for the purchasing agent drifted in undertones between their compressed lips. Dave lingered.
“I want to ask this gentleman if he remembers a friend of mine who used to make this t rritory,” he said.
“All right.” Ellicks waited suspiciously.
“I guess you and I can look back farther than these young chaps.” Dave let himself cautiously down into a chair beside the desk.
“Little touch of rheumatism?” asked the reception man sympathetically.
“Lumbago,” grunted Dave.
“You remember Charles E.
Cutter, who used to come here ten years before the war with gear-cutting compound? He’s about our age.”
“I was in the accounting department then,” said the old clerk brightly. “But 1 think I remember the name.”
“Well, old Charley, he’s got three children, all girls; fine girls they are too, and every one of them married. Charley’s got six grandchildren and only last week his oldest grandchild said to me—she’s the cutest little tad you ever saw—she said—”
“Well, look here,” broke in Speed Ellicks disgustedly, “we’ll go to the hotel and send the cab back here.”.
On the way Ellicks laughed. “Imagine that doddering old relic trying to sell anything,” he said to the third salesman.
nPOO bad about Mr. Nystrom,” the clerk was saying at that moment to Dave. “He’s all upset about the big hockey match. The important society people here are going to the city for the play-off and Mr. Nystrom waited too long about his tickets or was disappointed somehow and now lie’s out of it. The rink is sold out. He’s been wiring and telephoning but can’t get seats and he’s wild. All the society crowd is going to take the one o’clock train.”
“Funny how young people get that way,” assented Dave. “Now, Colonel Brackett, I bet you, he wouldn’t care.”
“Not him.” The clerk shook his head. “He isn’t going. The colonel will be at the public schoolboard meeting tonight. The colonel wouldn’t miss a school meeting. He’s been president ox the schoolboard year after year.”
A man in shirtsleeves hurried out of the inner precincts, a sheaf of yellow freight forms in his hand. His face was anxious. He darted across the floor as if hounds were after him.
"New traffic manager,” said the clerk. “That’s always a jam here, on account of this not being a main-line point. Probably some shipment held up again.”
About half an hour later Dave walked into the hotel chuckling. “Here’s a joke,” he said to Ellicks. Dave explained Nystrom’s disappointment. Ellicks apparently was not much interested, but in a few minutes he slipped up to his room. Dave, standing near the telephone switchboard, heard the operator putting through a city connection. At noon Dave saw Ellicks’ bags standing in front of the desk.
“What, are you leaving?” asked Dave.
“Yes,” said Ellicks. “I kinda changed my plans. I’m going to the city on this train.” Ellicks and his friend walked out to the bus together. On the sidewalk Ellicks was laughing triumphantly and his friend was regarding him with admiration.
“The poor old sap,” Ellicks was exulting. “He never saw it at all. Just came in and handed it to me. I had my office on the line in ten minutes and told them to get two good seats for the hockey match if they had to burn down the town. Inside half an hour they phoned back they had ’em. The chief gave up his. Then I got Nystrom on the phone and, believe me, boy, I’m going to snuggle up to him on this trip back to town.”
“Great stuff! No wonder they named you Speed. You are a live one. Well, I’ll take the one-thirty to Milton. You’ll catch me later, probably.”
As the bus rolled away Speed Ellicks caught a glimpse of old Dave Winyard standing inside the hotel window with his hands behind his back, looking meditatively after the vehicle. For a fleeting instant an icicle of suspicion glided along Mr. Ellicks’ spine, but he threw off the sensation.
Dave had subject for meditation. He had both the purchasing agent and Speed Ellicks out of the way, but
the problem that remained was to get to Colonel Brackett. Best chance seemed to be the schoolboard. Dave made a call on the superintendent of schools. Business was not mentioned. Dave casually got some sidelights on Colonel Brackett’s view's on education. Upon the superintendent’s invitation Dave attended the school meeting.
Colonel Brackett was in the chair. He gave a talk on the need for purposeful education. The superintendent follow'ed with an announcement.
“We are fortunate in having a visitor who today made a very interesting proposal along this line to me. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Winyard.”
Dave’s thoughtful air and impressive personality ensured attention.
“I am in agreement with the previous speaker on purposeful education,” began Dave. “It happens to be a hobby of mine. One of the most valuable powers a boy or girl can acquire is that of the effective presentation of facts. I suggest a contest in the two upper classes of your high school. I have donated three cash prizes of twenty-five, fifteen and ten dollars for the three most forcefully prepared arguments on ‘The Economic Results of Modern Building Construction,’ the school faculty to appoint the judges.”
“Who is offering these prizes?” asked Colonel Brackett sharply.
“I am, personally.”
“Do you furnish any material to aid the students in preparing these papers? Is there any free advertising purpose in this offer?”
“Not any. They should do their own research.”
“Hm.” Colonel Brackett continued sharply to regard Dave.
The superintendent rose to explain that Mr. Winyard had no axe to grind and did not even wish his name mentioned as the donor. Nevertheless the colonel'came to Dave after adjournment.
“Are you going to be in town tomorrow?” asked the colonel. “I’d like to talk to you further about this. Can
you come to my office any time during the forenoon?” In his hotel room Dave spent the rest of the evening checking and arranging his freight schedule sheets. His chat with the reception clerk had shown Dave that service was the weapon to use when he got hand to hand. The old strategist had drawn off the outer guards and broken down the outworks. In the morning he would go in through the breach and storm the citadel.
Dave’s friend, the reception clerk, was surprised in the morning to pass Dave right in by appointment to see the big boss.
“I can’t understand why you drop out of the skies and offer a prize in our schools.” The colonel’s keen eyes bored into Dave. “If there’s any propaganda for any product concealed in this offer of yours, I’m going to hand you back your money and advise you to spend it in legitimate advertising.”
“My donation is anonymous,” said Dave. “Just interested in education. Also interested in seeing how you ran the schoolboard.”
“Well, you saw. The board is much obliged for your donation and we’ll have the contest. Is there anything I can do for you?”
“You may give me a little time, now that I’m here. I represent Nonco products and I have some important information for you.”
“Mr. Nystrom is the purchasing agent.”
“I know it. He’s out of town, so his feelings won’t be hurt.”
“So that’s the coon in the woodpile.” Colonel Brackett leaned back in his chair. “All right. My time is worth ten dollars a minute. You have donated fifty dollars. I’ll give you five minutes. I’ll tell you before you start that Nystrom doesn’t select products in your class. He just orders them. The specifications are made out in our own technical department.”
“Good enough. Are you ready?”
“I’m ready,” said the colonel grimly.
“Here I come.” Dave charged.
Continued on page 103
Wanted: Man, Young
Continued from page 16
“I know that Nonco products rate as high as any in the field. The reason I am going over Nystrom’s head is because this is a matter of policy and service. You have been buying from distant factories. Our main plant can put a carload on your dock here overnight. We have also at the Junction a factory and warehouse. We maintain a complete stock there and will run a night shift for you at any time. You lost your bonus and paid a thirtythousand-dollar penalty for being ten days behind time on that last Toronto job. You know why—slow deliveries. A day’s work lost on all your jobs represents a loss of thousands of dollars. You said so last year at the convention. You had a breakdown in your paint shop here last month.” Dave’s chat with the old clerk had been discursive. “You could have telephoned for parts for Nonco spraying equipment and had them hete by airplane in two hours, with an expert along with them, if necessary. Are you convinced that I have a story?”
Colonel Brackett began to press buttons.
“Send the traffic manager here. Get Dr. Perkins from the laboratory. I want Nystrom. No, he’s out of town; send his assistant here. Have the works manager come to my office. Tell him to bring the head of the paint department.”
They all got around the table in the directors’ room.
“What’s the matter with Nystrom? What has he against Nonco?” Colonel Brackett asked the head chemist.
Dr. Perkins adjusted his horn-rimmed glasses and said the department could not dictate which O. K. product Mr. Nystrom should buy. Nystrom’s assistant pussyfooted cautiously. Other men were called in. The paint situation was being torn open.
At twelve-thirty they were hard at it and went in a body to a private room in the factory’s restaurant where they continued their figuring on the tablecloth. They came back to the directors’ room and buckled to again. Dave had figures about every big contract of the Brackett corporation. He knew the airplane, freight, express and motor-truck schedules from every supply point to every job the Brackett organization was running up. He stood at the head of the table and took their fire. Perkins was with him on Nonco specifications, but at times every other man in the room was yelling at him. Dave’s charts and figures covered everything. He was a mine of facts; patient, tireless, diplomatic, but immovable on essentials. Every little while in the afternoon another was added to the growing pile of order forms.
At the close of the day, when the tired men had left the littered room to go to their offices and sign their mail, Dave put his stuff together in his brief case. Colonel Brackett went to the door with him.
“Winyard,” he said, “I believe in young men, but most of them are unlicked cubs. I have to stand for their failures
and mistakes. As you showed us, one such mistake cost us seventy thousand dollars. Would you consider throwing up your present job and coming to me? Pd want you to work on the efficiency end of the business. You have made friends with some of our men through this morning’s work. They will listen to you now, and in time you will be speeding them all up. How about it?”
MR. MCNAB was in his office regarding the world dynamically when Dave walked past the door, carrying his travelling bag. Dave went to his desk. McNab observed him with a sour expression.
“Here he is, old granpa back again,” he sneered to himself. “See how he puts his bag down, so neatly against the wall; how carefully he hangs up his overcoat and hat. Now he lays his catalogues and folders down on his desk, just so. How orderly he is. I’ll bet he got the prize somewhere for the neatest desk.”
Dave tapped on the door.
“Come in! Come in!” yelled McNab. “Never take time to knock when my door is open. This is an organization of live wires. Come in!”
“I didn’t write because I would be here this morning as soon as a letter,” explained Dave.
“All right. All right. All right. What did you do? What did you do? Did you see Nystrom?”
“Unfortunately he was out of town.”
“I expected something would happen,” McNab sneered. “Then why did you stay overnight?”
“I got an opportunity to make a little talk at a school meeting and—”
“At least I hope you used the opportunity to drill Nonco into their heads. That was your chance to sell ’em Nonco, Nonco, in every sentence.”
“Oh, no.” Dave shook his head. “I was exceedingly careful not to give the slightest hint of my connection.”
“Ho-lee—!” McNab boiled up into the air. “And this is what I have to work with! You had a chance to sell the Nonco idea and you never—you—you— My stars, why didn’t some young fellow with some pep in him have that chance?” “It led to a contact with Colonel Brackett.” Dave had waited patiently. “If you will allow me to say so, I had my reasons for my procedure. Now”—he
spread out his order blanks—“these four carloads go to the main plant. These two carloads are to be shipped direct to their Beaver works and this carload is to go to the Northern bridge they are building. Colonel Brackett’s signature is on the orders. Prices are all regular scale but I must have prompt shipment.”
McNab leaned back in his chair, his jaw hanging and his eyes goggling.
“Colonel Brackett has suggested my joining his staff,” Dave went on, “but I agreed to stay with you until I can find someone here who will look after his order and speed it up.”
At home that night, old Dave stretched out his legs with a sigh as he lay back in his favorite chair.
“So you had a nice trip,” said Mrs. Winyard.
“Yes,” replied Dave. “Good clean business. No L. C. L. stuff.”
“I know you always prefer carloads.” “We won’t have to deal with anything but carloads from now on. There isn’t anything small about Colonel Brackett.” Dave dived into his book. The battle was on, and Dave’s pet character, the seasoned old fighting man, was leading the stormers of the walls while arrows, j stones and spears bounced off his helmet ' and breastplate as he hewed his way ' across the postern bridge.
“I didn’t get a chance to look at this ' while I was gone,” he remarked.
The End I