TIME WITH DS-MAX: 4 years
DIVISIONS: Advertsing, Books, Communications, Clearance,
MY STORY: I was off work for a couple of weeks. I answered an ad for an advertsing position. I came in for an interview. It was very vague, but I came back the next day.
I went out on a DAY OF OBSERVATION, will Rick Zajac, whom I have the utmost respect for. At the end of the day I sat down for second interview with Nick Hebert (One of the most honest guys I've ever met.) Nick told me about how he got paid and about the opportunity for advancement. I was excited about the opportunity, after experiencing many layoff and companies downsizing. I felt like this was the opportunity that I had been waiting for.
I went out on my first day retrain with Rick. I made $42 profit off the campaign we were working on and Rick shot me an extra $30, so I went home with $72. I was really excited. The next day they gave me 20 certs and sent me out solo. Rick told me that Randy had liquidated (sold all 20 certs) on his first day solo, so that was exactly what I wanted to do. I came back at the end of the day and told Rick that I didn't sell all 20 certs, but I did sell 19. I went home with $133. The next day I went out and a lady chased me down and returned one of the certs she'd bought the day before. I sold the 20 certs I had and the one the lady returned to me. I went home with $140 my second day in the business. I became a leader in about a week and a half.
I worked in Nick's advertising office for about 6 months. I learned a lot from Nick Hebert, Rick Zajac and Kevin Footy. Nick was one of the sharpest guys I've ever met in the business. He was always honest with me and gave me the utmost respect. (Something I later came to appreciate, after dealing with many other owners.) When he told me that he was the top trainer in Mike Putnam's office in Boston, I believed it. I still have no reason to disbelieve it.
About six months after I started, Nick called all of the Trainers into his office, so he could tell us that he was closing his office and leaving. I couldn't understand why a guy with 15-19 guys in his office continually (he couldn't seem to get to 20 guys.) was leaving such a great opportunity. I didn't know it until the last day I saw him that he made it to management without his own car. Nick had saved his money wisely and bought himself a Mitsubishi Eclipse just as he was leaving. I haven't seen or heard from him since. By chance if Nick or anyone who is in contact with Nick reads this, please call me in Buffalo (716) 332-9001. Nick's honesty and respect will always be with me.
I left the advertising office to go to work with Mike Gorman in old Book Division. Nick warned me to be cautious of Mike, but I wanted my opportunity.
I went to the Book Division and so did Rick Zajac, who was my trainer in Advertising. They put Rick on my crew and this caused some friction between Rick and I. I completely understand Rick's side of things. I hope he will forgive me for my immaturity back then. Rick I will always hold you in the highest regards, even if I didn't use the most tact back then. Thank you!
It was in this Book office that I met Kirk Tromley. Kirk had lived with Scott Wesselhoff for about 6 months and was very knowledgeable about the business. At first Kirk and I clashed because we were taught differently, but we came to a mutual understanding later. Kirk taught me a lot about training people, promoting and about people. Honestly, I never heard Kirk say a bad word about anyone. He never got caught up into it.
Kirk kinda took me under his wing. I would bring guys aboard and Kirk would do a lot more training in the office. I owe a lot of my success at that point to him and his knowledge.
I brought a great bunch of guys aboard. Unfortunately, Mike Gorman was "fixing" the paperwork to cover up for his inventory losses. I got to a point where I had 4 first generation trainers and about 17 guys total within the generations. It seemed like everytime I was about to have a 5th guy get promoted to trainer, Mike would blow the guy out.
I stayed on even when Mike had to go to on a "retrain" to his promoting manager's office, Joe Ormondo. We closed up the office in Rochester and moved to Syracuse for a while. Not long after we went to Syracuse my car died.
It was at this point that I learned Clearance. Since I didn't have a car, I worked with some guys in the Maggie Razdar's Clearance office that shared office space with Joe Ormondo. I was on foot, staying in a motel, with most of my money going towards the motel and eating. My first day on foot, I sold the products at my cost. Let's face it - I stunk at Clearance.
I stuck with it, even when times were back. I'd come back with an attitude like I had just liquidated, even though I wasn't doing well in the field. One day Maggie pulled me in the office and let me know that I was always welcome to come over to her office.
Mike got some of his money situated and we went back to Rochester. By now I had a beat up old Aerostar, with a transmission that leaked that I bought from one of Joe's guys. I guess I figured I'd start out like Chris Niarcos.
After we went to Rochester, Mark Gilooly and Melvin Otis opened a Clearance to share space with Mike's book office. By this time I was pretty fed up with Mike Gorman. I was building a crew of about 14-17 guys. (I even had some guys in the clearanc office that I had taken out on a Day of O, but didn't have a car.)
I am so thankful for meeting Melvin and Mark. Mark was very honest with his guys. I remember him telling us in a meeting that only 1 out of 1,000 make it to management. He was right and I wanted to be one of them. I remember getting so negged out about Mike. Talking to Mark helped me to stay on.
I left a few months after that and marketed Skytel Pagers for the Syracuse Communications Office for a while and then left the business for about 3 months.
When I came back, I worked with Matt Konkel and Billy Rufus in Rochester. They were trying to get a Clearance Office up and running in Rochester. Unfortunately, it wasn't happening and Maggie Razdar ended up sending Rich Suzhomski in to run the office. I worked with Rich for quite some time. I started off getting half owner's stroke, but Rich did away with that after a while.
I built up a team and went to Syracuse to open a Book Office in Syracuse, with Maggie Razdar's Clearance & Communications offices in Syracuse. I was supposed to build things up in Syracuse and then take the Book Division back to Rochester. We did very well. Some weeks we did as much in production as the Clearance guys.
While I was in Syracuse things fell apart for Rich in Rochester and he went on a retrain back to Maggie's Office.
This is also where I met Eugene Goff. Eugene always jokes around, saying he took the 2 year program at DS-Max University, while I took the 4 year program. Eugene was the top Clearance guy in the office. He could move merch like a madman. He built his crew, I built mine. We opened an office together in Scranton, PA (Eugene in Clearance, Me in Books) After being there a few months, they told me that Rochester had opened up and I took moved back to Rochester, mainly because I wanted to be closer to my daughter, whom lived there.
A few months after I moved to Rochester, they closed the office in Scranton and Eugene came to Rochester. A few months after that Eugene and I left and found a distributor in New York that had some merch. Eugene moved back to Syracuse and I stayed in Rochester.
I merched Mon-Sat and then drove 400 miles to get more merch. I bought a minivan to fit more. They would sometimes take bets to see if I could fit everything in the van. I would break the boxes down, but I would fit it in.
Man, did I move a ton of merch. I shot for $1,000 per day in sales. Average was $400-$500, but I had those days where I collected $1,200-$1,500. I had fun for about 4 years, but realized I didn't want to do sales for the next 30 years.
I could make $50k-$70k per year out of my garage, but I knew I could make a lot more if I had an office. One day a few guys from the DS-Max office called me and they said that the Buffalo Office was closing and they wanted to work with me to make some money for Christmas. Altogether, 5 guys came aboard.
We worked out of my garage for some time, with one by one leaving. On that Easter I opened my office and the last guy left. I opened an office by myself.
I would do interviews all day Monday and half day on Wednesday, giving me more time in the field. That was 3 years ago. Now I have a Clearance Office and am getting ready to open an Advertising Office (I hooked up with some Ex-DS-Max's guys) and a Fundraising Office.
I run things very much like a DS-Max Office, but I give my guys a bigger stroke and overrides on their crew. I retain more people this way. I also encourage my guys to take a day off occasionally and be with their families.
My wife works in my office with me. She and I know what it's like to have a family. We have 7 kids. (She had 3, I had 3 and we have 1 together.) Family is important to both of us. We take time out to be with them., so should my guys. We take turns doing settle-ups and letting other guys go home and spend time with their families. They worked hard to get where they're at, they deserve it and so does their family.
I know that many of you are negative about DS-Max. Honestly, part of me used to be. I can honestly say that I have spent blood, sweat and tears to where I'm at today. The price I paid for my version of success has been higher than most, but let's face it - I made that decision. I am thankful for all of the good and bad things that I learned while I was with DS-Max. It really has changed my life and given me the opportunity to do things with the wonderful people in my life that I would not have been able to otherwise. They taught me a trade, a way to make more money then 90% of the people I know or come in contact with. Honestly, I have made a lot more money since I left DS-Max, but I am thankful for what I learned.
My advice to you is to take what you've learned, especially the 8 Habits to Success, and apply them to your life, wherever it may lead you and use it for something better. Make something positive out of the experience that you had. We are part of a brotherhood. We have experienced things that other people will never understand.
Please remember, if any of you know or see Nick Hebert, Rick Zajac, Mark Gilooly or Melvin Otis, please tell them that I said, "Hi" and "Thank you" and I would love to hear from them.
Buffalo, New York