This story you are just not going to believe. It is true, however, and it was just as embarrassing as you might imagine for those of us who worked for little computer repair shop. We had been selling Netscreen firewalls to some of our customers, and it was lucrative for us as well and extremely useful for them. We were looking into other network gear that we could become proficient on and offer to our customers. Those who were purchasing firewalls from us were most often also subscribing to our services to manage them remotely.
The boss decides one day that he will try to secure a reseller deal with Adtran, so we can get our costs lowered and offer something of value to our customers. This story is not about different hardware vendors or the equipment they sold. It is about the way our boss went about establishing a business relationship with the sales team at Adtran. One day, he calls them up and asks them to send some people down because he would like to take them to dinner and discuss some possibilities. Some might wonder why Adtran was not the party offering a free meal, well, that’s because they really got little benefit out of a relationship with us.
We wanted to be able to claim that we were the exclusive resellers of something in our area. When the gentlemen came to town, the boss showed them around the shop and introduced them to our shop folks and our field techs. They were relieved to see that we actually had a wide range of experience and felt confident we could make them look good. Now, it was time for a meal. The boss loaded them up in his dirty car full of old computer junk and drove them to one of the lesser known options for classy dining, the McDonald’s. No, this wasn’t a fancy restaurant of the same name. This was the Golden Arches.
Needless to say, that deal with Adtran never really came into being. Most of us were embarrassed to ever speak about it again. There were many pacts made during that time regarding if and when we would ever speak of the things that happened at that business in the future. They are no longer open for business. We had quite a good team and I think we really could have taken the company somehwere had the owner trusted in his people more. Oh well. If you are ever inclined to treat a potential partner to a classy meal, please don’t follow this example.