After searching around for quite some time attempting to locate a manufacturer that would be able to work with me, I happened across a website that looked fairly promising for the little guy. There are far too many websites out there boasting about being available for the little guy who has a very limited budget. I was very hopeful yet equally skeptical that this company only an hour away would be any different than those who had previously turned me down. I fired off my usual email and was pleasantly surprised when I received a reply within the same hour. It was quickly identified that emailing back and forth was not going to accomplish much and an invitation was sent to me so that I could explain in person what I was looking for.
When the day came to meet with a company named Iron Duck Inc., I was pretty open minded and excited. Would this be yet another failure? Would they find me to be someone they would work with? And if so, how cool would it be that they were essentially in my backyard. Iron Duck, whom I had never heard of at that time, was only about an hours drive away from me in Chicopee Massachusetts. Their website looked fairly good, their product line seemed fairly large, and they seemed to be a very capable company that specialized in making very specific products for the medical industry.
As I approached their door I was greeted by a small sign in the foyer which read: “Welcome” with the name “Tac-Tote” placed underneath it in plastic temporary letters. I was important. In all seriousness, I was moderately happy to see there was an effort at all to welcome someone of my status which is to say….having none. I pushed the button and could hear the audible ring on the other side of the door which brought with it the nice women sitting in ear shot to come over and let me in. I was ushered to a back office where I met with Mike Flemming, a very no nonsense kind of person who is not shy when it comes to saying what he wants to say. I began to speak and relay all of the things that I would like to make and why. I had with me the working prototypes which really helped impart that I was at least on some level very serious about what I was trying to do. Mike was patient and continued to listen to me explain the product design and the reasons behind them. I was feeling pretty good about everything and at some point took a break in my explanation and pitch to allow him to give me his thoughts. Once again that damn two letter word made itself known. Mike did not actually speak the word “No”, yet gave the same thing in its paragraph derivative form. Due to his apparent interest level and inquisitiveness during my pitch I was under the impression that I was going to get a yes answer out of him.
I began to talk in circles again much like I did when I was meeting with my security manager after he surprised me with a no for an answer. However, Mike was going to give me the time to explain myself which I took full advantage of. I explained how the products worked and why they are important improvements to how we operated. I told him of the storage aspects and how we would be a much more organized security force because of their implementation. Over and over I was giving perfectly sound and valid reasons as to why my products are the greatest that we had ever seen.
Mike, so it seemed, was not impressed. I once again found myself bailing water out of my mental high end super yacht that had just taken a direct hit causing a giant hole to open up in its lower deck. I continued to talk. I was going to keep talking until he stopped showing even the slightest signs of interest. He would ask qualifying questions that I could only interpret as reasons for me to give up and to understand that my ideas were just not that good. Finally, and nearing defeat, I mentioned the ramifications for failing a Force on Force Exercise. It was at that moment that Mike bellowed these words: “There! Right there. That’s the why, that’s why a company would invest in your products.” I was speaking to him this entire time yet he wasn’t just sitting there letting me talk out of politeness as I thought. At some point during this conversation he had begun to try and justify the expense from the end consumers perspective. If he could manage to do that, he could then justify his time and efforts in making the products for me. I had failed to see him as a business man trying to make a decision based on sound principles and profit potential. His honesty coupled with his now apparent genuine desire to validate any involvement with me was a tremendous breath of fresh air. And just like that, my relationship with Iron Duck had begun.