ROANOKE, Va. — I have been writing articles for this publication for many years. It has been an undertaking that I really enjoy.
One of the special benefits of my column is that occasionally I get a phone call or e-mail from a reader asking about how my recent article might apply to their current situation.
I enjoy talking to them and helping them with their current challenge. To me, this is paying it back to all the many people who helped me during my first 10 years in the business.
Developing what I call an “educated phone book” is essential if you plan on making this industry your career.
I can remember attending the American Laundry and Linen College for the first part two and part three sessions. We all knew we were helping develop something really great. During my attendance, I added many key phone numbers to my phone book.
The first key number I added was that of Bill Webb. He was an expert of fixing laundry machinery. His depth of knowledge simply blew me away. I frequently called him with maintenance and repair questions. He was always willing to give me good, solid advice.
I met a number of excellent textile management and textile procurement experts, like Barb Williams. The more I learned, the more experts I added. I worked hard to learn as much as I could, but it was great to have people with more experience than me whom I could call on and see if they had ever run into the problem I was currently facing.
I have faced boiler problems, air compressor problems, staining problems, productivity problems, contract problems and textile failures, such as excessive shrinking on blankets or contour sheets. The challenges were never the same, and the need for advice was always there.
Recently, I was approached by one of my readers who asked if I would be willing to help them out. This person wanted me to review their marketing material, some of their proposals and be available to give them advice as they bid for additional business. So far, it seems to be a great situation for both of us.
The value of seasoned advice can help the relative newcomer from making serious blunders. It can help them improve their operations and become a success. Too often I have seen managers feel that by asking questions they are admitting they don’t know enough to do the job. This, of course, is not the truth.
After 43 years in the business, I was still learning every day on the job. Advanced equipment, chemicals and textiles presented new and challenging situations that had to be solved. If I could learn from someone else’s experience and find a way to apply it to my situation, then I was doing my job.
My boss did not expect me to have an immediate answer to every question, but he did count on me to do the research and find the answer. Having an educated phone book makes this process much easier. Making contact with well-established professionals and adding them to your resource list will pay benefits for many years to come.