by Warren Tyler
One of the best choices I made was to accept Al Wahnon’s invitation to be a columnist at FCNews. It gave me the exposure to jumpstart my career.
Of the thousands of floor covering retailers in America, most have heard me state or write, “You have choices—choices to be happy or sad, rich or poor, even to be sick or well.” This provocative statement is meant to motivate people to recognize the potential power within themselves to control their destiny.
By way of explanation, in 1982 I was afflicted with a cancer that ran up my spinal column. Luckily, I had developed a close relationship with my internist, who sent me to the best surgeon she knew. After two surgeries and radiotherapy, I was contacted by a medical school student who wanted to interview me. I agreed, but only after letting her know it was the most positive experience I had ever known. She hung up on me.
Without a chance to explain that as an obsessive marathoner, my thoughts upon receiving the news was never of life or death, but my disappointment of not being able to compete in a scheduled marathon that weekend. Recovery became just another competition and I won.
As a retailer for 27 years, I became a champion amongst dealers. I was passionate in sharing my mistakes as well as the fruits of my research throughout the years in finding solutions to their everyday problems. My position in the industry was recognized by my peers and even trainers from manufacturers and suppliers. This was evident whenever they spotted me in the audience and asked for reviews after sessions.
Sometimes executives can overlook retail expertise and believe their people know as much as dealers and retail experts. However, I am the world’s worst marketer and have an incredibly difficult time selling myself. Possibly because doing so might preclude me from saying that the average good retailer knows more about selling and service than they do. To further exemplify my inadequacies in this activity, I am always amazed at the people with lesser qualifications who end up with these projects as well as the people who have left a trail of failed companies who are hired as consultants. In this respect I am a big loser for having made the choice to be poorer rather than richer.
I am a retail expert, not a prognosticator. I advised my wife, Tara, to open a Big Bob’s Outlet in October 2006 and watched several hundred thousand dollars slip into an abyss—a loser. They say when life serves up a lemon make lemonade. To that end, her store has served as a research lab on how to turn losses into profits. With her amazing persistence and natural talent, her store is now making money. While certain influences knocked her down and put up every conceivable roadblock to her success, other factors did everything possible to keep her in the game with whom she has now established substantial relationships—one big winner and one big loser.
I am now sitting at home recovering from a double heart valve replacement and bypass. Tara and I did research to find the best possible surgeon at the best possible hospital—a wise choice, because there were complications and they handled it.
At 70, I still feel 20 and plan on a much quicker recovery than expected because I have bookings on my calendar earlier than my anticipated recovery date. My passion for retailing and my choice of a wonderful wife dedicated to my recovery will see me through—all winners.