Transcript for Episode #170 ‘Inspiration for Business Owners from Bartlett Arkell ‘‘
Host: Scott Weaver
Date Oct 19, 2022
Welcome, everyone. This is the Arise to Live podcast episode 170. We have an unexpected podcast released for technical reasons, so today we will be talking about a mini book review from an old book called “Grocery Clerks Who have become Successful”.
If we were going to rephrase the title into modern times, it would be “Fast Food Workers Who Made It Big.”
Hello. My name is Scott Weaver and I am the Arise2Live Business coach. I help business owners on the financial side as well as the operation side, helping people, business owners, to become more successful by managing their finances and operations to get them into sync. I have to say, “I’m sorry to say that on my end, we’ve had very, very significant technical issues.” The main computer went down. That means the backup storage for backup episodes is also not accessible.
So this is a one take, on the fly recording that I hope it goes well and I hope you get to enjoy it. So as I mentioned before, we’ll talk about this book. It was published in 1925 called “Grocery Clerks Who Have Become Successful.”
I found this book out of a box of old books when I helped my parents move from their house of a long time into a smaller house. This book is actually from my grandma from her collection which has been in some box probably for 50-60 years. This is interesting and actually relevant today.
The author is Bartlett Arkell. He is from Canajoharie, New York, upstate New York, in the Mohawk Valley. Hopefully I pronounced that right but probably didn’t. You New Yorkers can correct me. He was the president of the Beech-Nut Packing Company for over 50 years. He was an entrepreneur, very successful local.
In that time, the company patented something we take for granted, glass jars with a seal over it. If you are in packing and you are trying to pack meat or something like that, you want to seal it. So they patented that and any packed jar, nowadays, that you buy in the grocery store, the original patent came from them. There are better designs out there, of course.
He self-published this book. So today, if you are thinking of self-publishing and the impact you may have, here is somebody from 1925 who was trying to help out people and we’re talking about it almost 100 years later. The book is about stories of successful business people who started out being a grocery clerk. Working at a grocery store would be equivalent to working in fast foods, local grocery store, burger joint, or taco place. Who didn’t stop there but used that as a stepping stone. He started a collection.
What is really interesting about it is I never heard of these people except for one: a guy named Abraham Lincoln, one of the most famous American presidents. He, when he was young, was a grocery store clerk. So having a humble start or humble background of where you come from is not a limitation. It actually can be a motivation. The skills and the hard work that you learn from those situations can be very important.
I will just read one section out of it. It’s a guy named Edward Haas. There is a little picture of him here. Hopefully it comes up. If you’ve never heard of him, don’t worry, me neither. If you’ve never heard of Neosho, Missouri, once again I’m mispronouncing that. Just take note of his story and I think it’s going to relate to a lot of the humble backgrounds that you have here. (I need to take off my glasses.)
Edward Haas 4:26
“Mr. Haas was founder of the Haas Wholesale Grocery Company of Neosho, Missouri, and we are indebted to his brother, Charles Haas, who is now president of that company, for the information contained in the following sketch.
Nearly fifty years ago, thirteen-year-old Ed Haas, in exchange for ten dollars a month, (now that’s a big wage: $10/month) drove a delivery wagon in Neosho, Missouri, for one of the grocery stores. Three years later he was promoted to a clerkship with a larger salary, then he was made bookkeeper. After a short time, having accumulated through careful thrift (that’s saving up) a total of four hundred dollars, he entered the retail grocery business on his own account. (In other words, he launched his own business)
Neosho was then a small town of twelve hundred inhabitants and it took a great deal of courage and the hardest kind of work to make his little grocery store profitable. (Sound familiar? Maybe we should exchange grocery store to online platform or launching your manufacturing company? The words are a little bit different.)
Later on, selling his store for nine thousand dollars, he invested this sum in the wholesale grocery business also in Neosho, from which small business grew the present concern (that’s a business) of the Haas Wholesale Grocery Company”, (So he sold his original business for $9000. That’s a pretty good sum in those days. So he invested $400 and a lot of sweat equity and got $9000 out of it.) that later became “the largest and the most complete wholesale grocery house west of the Mississippi river.
In 1920, Mr. Haas decided that he had about all the worldly goods an old bachelor needed, so he turned his business over tho his employees, giving them their own time and pleasure to pay for it, and ‘moved to Los Angeles.” So when he retired, he sold his business to the employees.
So this is a story of somebody you never heard about making a big difference where he lived. I did an internet search on it and the only thing I could find about this company is that the original building that they were in is now in the National Registry.
So the point here is here’s a person that is basically long forgotten that even in his day people didn’t really know but he made a big difference in his local community. He made a big difference in his employees. He made a big difference in his brother. We can do the same for us.
Don’t underestimate your company. Don’t underestimate where you are. You may be in Nowhere, America, or you may be surrounded in a big city by hundreds of thousands of people, feeling that you’re small. You are not small. You can make a huge difference.
So going back to the author of this book, he contributed a lot to the local community, as well as having a very successful company, the company is still around today. It is owned by a Swiss company, I believe it is called the Hero Company or the Hero Conglomerate. He built something long lasting. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page on him even though he ran this company for 50 years but in his lifetime, he invested in the first local library, built a museum, set us several country clubs because he was in that economic status. He got them through the Great Depression and was very highly respected in his area. If you look up Bartlett Arkell, you will find him as a local legend.
So this is suppose to be an encouragement for you business owners who are grinding it out trying to build up that courage and the hard work to make something work that in the end you will make a difference. Even if at the time, nobody really knows who you are because not everybody is going to be the next Elon Musk or Bill Gates. There are very few people like that but there are hundreds of thousands of business owners out here in America and even many more worldwide and making a difference where they can.
Couple Points 9:02
It is okay if you come from humble beginnings. It is okay that you started out at the local hamburger joint as a fast food worker or at the grocery store. Those are good places to start. They are valuable to society and they are excellent training places to learn customer service, following process, how to deliver a good product. It’s important work. Don’t underestimate that.
The other part is wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, make it count. Make your business count and that requires the courage from inside of you. It requires moving forward. It requires being creative when you have computer crashes that brings you down and you can’t get a podcast out on time. You can still do things.
The other part is encourage the people around you. As business owners, we have a certain position in society, a certain status that we may or may not appreciate or even welcome but business owners are problem solvers. We are leaders in our own way with many styles and many ways to do that. You are one of them. Just lean into it. Business owners can solve problems that other people can’t. That is one of the skill sets we have. Another one is creating vision. There are a lot of people that have excellent skills when they see where they’re going, when they have a purpose, when they have a destiny. They go at it like a bulldog. It’s amazing but they wouldn’t be able to figure out the destination. That is where the business owners really come in.
Another part is when you are in that position to be generous to the community, generous to the society around you, your neighborhood because it pays off. It just makes everything sweeter and gives you more purpose beyond just making money, beyond your business. Your business counts a lot and if you can expand outside your borders by being successful, that is really good.
Call to Actions 11:09
Let me look at my notes here. Once again we are doing this in one take. So the call to action is that I have a few questions for you to consider while you’re out on a drive or talk it over with your spouse or kids but it is “How are you making your story?”
In this book, the author went around and asked everyday business owners, “What is your story?” So how are you making your story? Are you building? It doesn’t matter where you are just make a story and make it be a good one.
The other part is it is okay to live a quiet life, not to be out in the limelight, to be behind the scenes making everything work and even have your managers take more credit than you do because in the end of the day, they know. At the end of the day, you built the foundations that other people can go on. That is very important.
So I encourage you to have impact where you can around you. Once again, this is part of the Arise2Live mission. Arise to live is to step up where you are because when you do your part, when you are building your business, when you’re running it well, you are helping others and you are arising to live.