Remembering Al Berryman

It seems that this Covid 19 thing has me reminiscing quite a bit. I have all these memories of people and events over the years that have stuck with me. Now that I have started writing these blogs, I have the opportunity to share them. Here’s a story surrounding a friend of mine, Al Berryman

I was born in Michigan and lived there as a kid, and even though I’ve spent most of my life in Arizona, if you asked me where I’m from I would say Washington. I lived there for less than 10 years from the time I was 12 until I was 21. A good friend of mine in those years was Al Berryman. Even though our lives went in very different directions when we left high school, we connected several times over the ensuing decades. Al was a big sports fan, and he was also very smart. He was one of those guys who knew the name of the guy who played shortstop for the Boston Red Sox in 1958, and what his batting average was. Al was a devout Catholic. When we went out on Friday nights, if we wanted a burger we had to wait until midnight because he couldn’t eat meat on Friday.

When we graduated from high school, I went to the University of Washington, about 20 minutes away from the house I grew up in. Nevertheless, I was out on my own from the time I graduated high school throughout my college years. I paid my own tuition, books, plus food and lodging, by working part time during the school year, and usually two jobs during the summers to catch up. 

My friend Al went to Notre Dame. He was from a more affluent family, and Al’s Dad took care of all his college expenses. There was something called the Draft back then, more formally called involuntary conscription. While I was able to stay out of the military with a student deferment, I eventually had to end my career as a professional student and get my college degree. I graduated from the University of Washington on Dec 19th, and got my draft notice from the U.S. Army on December 21st.  

While I was waiting to report for my induction I took some vacation time and flew to San Francisco where my friend Al was between semesters at the University of San Francisco law school. We had a week of great fun, hanging out together in San Francisco. Al was sharing one of those old Victorian San Francisco walkups. His roommates were all on Christmas break so we had the house to ourselves. San Francisco was in its heyday. We visited Sausalito, Filmore West, Haight-Ashbury, and more. It was a great week.  

Soon after, I reported to my draft board for induction into the Army. 
I was one of the lucky ones, never went anywhere near Vietnam. Eventually, I wound up stationed here in Phoenix, where I met my future wife, married, and finished my 2 year commitment to the U.S. Army. We stayed right here in Phoenix. My friend Al Berryman and I touched base rather infrequently. He wound up working for a law firm in Fresno, California and I had a career here in Phoenix in the Major Appliance Industry.

Fast forward a couple of decades. I had season tickets to ASU football. They were really good seats. They were on the upper deck, but they were on about the forty yard line. I never knew who owned the two seats next to me because each game there was somebody different sitting there. Until one day, when ASU played Notre Dame. My brother-in-law was visiting from California. He was an ASU graduate and a big fan, so I took him to the game.

The seats next to me were occupied by this scrawny long haired fellow, and a guy who was a giant. He must have been 6’7” and 260 lbs. not an ounce of fat, and atop his head was this baseball cap with the initials ND. The scrawny guy introduced himself and said that he’d had these seats for several years, but this was only the second time he’d been here. He explained that he owned some McDonald’s restaurants and gave the seats out to employees. Then he introduced us to his guest. “Say hello to George Kunz. Drafted #2 in the NFL behind OJ Simpson. Since OJ is now in Jail, I figure that makes George here the #1 pick.” George had played professional football as an offensive lineman for a decade, and was visiting from his home in Las Vegas, where he also owned some MacDonald’s restaurants.

We were having a great time visiting with these guys and watching the game. Notre Dame was beating ASU, and George was cheering them on quite vociferally. I was starting to get annoyed, so I said something like, “Tell me George…did you go to school at Notre Dame, or did you just play football there?” It was a very bad move on my part. Very Bad. Of course, I wound up apologizing and all was forgiven, but the damage was done.

Some years later, Notre Dame was back in Arizona to play in the Fiesta Bowl. A few days before the game I got a phone call from my friend Al Berryman. “Let me guess” I said. “You’re in Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl“.  Sure enough, he was. We made arrangements to meet for lunch and get re-acaquainted. Over lunch I told him the story about George Kunz. He told me what a bad mistake, I’d made, and I told him that I knew. He said, “I don’t think you do. George was not only an All-American football player, he was also an ACADEMIC ALL AMERICAN.

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Two Stories

Fulton’s Folly

I had a long career in the appliance industry. For 10 years I was sales manager for one of Arizona’s largest builder distributors. At one point, we had made arrangements to sell a professional range that was in our showroom to Ira Fulton, the owner of Fulton Homes. He was building a summer home in the White Mountains, and he wanted a restaurant style range. He also wanted a heavy discount for his personal use since he was buying appliances for all the homes he was building. We were always rotating items off our showroom, and we were able to accommodate him with a very discounted price for this large professional range.


Fulton’s summer home was in a mountain resort location, and there was no gas utility. That meant his gas source was LP, i.e. propane gas. In most cases that would be no big deal. Residential gas ranges have orifices that can be adjusted from natural gas to liquid propane. However, true professional restaurant ranges do not have adjustable orifices. “No problem”, I simply ordered some LP gas orifices, and shipped them to a service company in the area so that they could be installed. Perfect! 

Not so quick. It turns out that this range had a special infrared broiler that was a mesh surface that literally had dozens of tiny flames. There was no “adjustment” from natural gas to LP, and replacing the entire broiler assembly was just not feasible. Unfortunately, the service agent didn’t find this out until he had the stove almost entirely disassembled. The next thing I knew, we had returned to us the entire range in pieces.

Part 2 – Better than Nothing

This was a costly lesson, but it was indeed a lesson. As my career advanced, and I moved into the corporate world at Maytag and Jenn-Air, and later as part of Whirlpool, I did a lot of training. As a trainer, I would weave stories like the one above into my training. One day, I was at the Whirlpool training center in Atlanta leading a training session of sales associates from the West. I had just finished the Fulton’s Folly story above, when one of the attendees commented, “This is the third story you’ve told about something that went wrong. You really weren’t very good, were you?”

Well, I was caught off guard, but I replied. “I do in fact talk a lot more about my mistakes than my successes. I believe you all know a lot about the things you need to do to be successful, but not as much about the things you need not to do to avoid failure. But I will answer you question about my sales ability.”

“When I went to work for Maytag as a District Manager, I was in my forties, and already had a long career in appliance sales, and a recent MBA. We had regional meetings each quarter when all the District Managers like myself would gather together for a review. The meeting would start with a scorecard revealing the standing of each of the 9 District Managers in the West. The top achiever was always the Southern California District Manager and that was no surprise. Then they would go down the rest of the list in sales by territory, Northern California, Pacific Norhwest, etc. until they got down to the 7th and 8th Districts which were Utah and Colorado. They were “open” territories. There was NO district manager in Utah or Colorado. My District, Arizona, was 9th. Not only was I at the bottom of the list, in the case of two districts before me, I was not even as good as nobody.

But I got to work, and by the next quarterly meeting I was 6th, meaning that I was better than nobody. By the end of the year, I was 2nd behind Southern California. Nobody was going to beat him. At that point, I was offered a National Account position calling on the headquarters for the Top Builders in the West. Eventually, I wound up heading up National Accounts for the U.S. before returning to handling marketing for the Western U.S. So, I was pleased with my career progress, and especially proud of achieving the honor of being better than nothing.

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My First Job

The Milk Barn

My first real job when I graduated high school was at The Milk Barn in Bellevue, Washington. I had enrolled at the University of Washington for the fall, and I desperately needed a part time job for minor things like food and lodging, not to mention gas, tuition, and books. I had to wait until October to get this job because I was not yet 18. It was the perfect job. My co-workers were full-time, and had families. That meant they didn’t like working nights and weekends. I went to school only on weekdays, so I could only work nights and weekends. I got all the hours I wanted.

The Milk Barn was a drive through dairy store. The owner had a dairy farm in Snohomish, Wa. We bragged that all the milk we sold was in a cow only a few days prior.

 

 

 

 

There were about 10 Milk Barn’s scattered around the Seattle area, but the Bellevue store was the largest. It was located across the street from the Puget Power Building, which at four stories was the largest building in Bellevue.

Customers would drive up and we’d take their “empties”, (our milk came in glass returnable bottles) and replace them with full bottles of fresh milk. They never had to get out of their car. In fact, there was no inside store, just a big walk in refrigerator and a small office.

That job got me through 4 1/2 years of college. It was hard work. We staffed with one to three employees working at a time depending on traffic. We had to work the line waiting on the customers as they drove up, and also stock the back during the slack times. The milk bottles were in metal racks on rollers so that as you removed an emptied rack, another rack of milk would roll forward. When the line of cars went down, we’d go inside to the huge walk in refrigerated room, and fill the roller with more racks of milk from the pallets of milk in the cooler. Each morning when we opened, and each night when we closed we counted all the inventory. In the morning, the manager would balance the books. 

The pay was decent (it was a union job), and I got paid extra for working Sundays and Holidays. Without that job, I never would have made it through college. What about you? Have a story to tell of how you started out? Tell us in the comments.

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Arizona Lovebirds


Early one morning, while my wife and I were taking our dog out for a walk, we heard some birds chirping quite loudly.  We looked across the street where the cacophony was, and we saw some brightly colored birds high in our neighbor’s tall palm tree. They were chirping and flitting from one place to another high in the crevices of the trimmed palm fronds.

 

Since there were only a few of them, we suspected that they were fugitives from a cage in the home of a nearby neighbor. We began looking out for them each morning, and over time it became apparent that there was quite a colony of these pretty birds living in this tree. A friend told me that they were Arizona Lovebirds, and they were widespread in the area. I did some research and came across a few articles on these very pretty little birds.

According to the Journal of Arizona Field Ornithologists, these birds are Rosy-faced Lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis). They are small feral parrots, that have been breeding in the area for over 30 years. It’s not typical for exotic birds to survive in the wild. However, it is believed that the opportunity for them to thrive in our dry desert climate, is due to the availability of water and nesting provided by humans. This population in the Phoenix area is thought to be the only feral population of the Rosy-faced Lovebirds in the United States.

Rosy-faced Lovebird in saguaro cavity at Gilbert Water Ranch, 2008. Photo by Brendon Grice

 

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Remembering Newton, Iowa

I spent a number of years working for a local Phoenix appliance distributor, selling major appliances to home builders. Later in my career, I went to work for the Maytag Company to help them get new business for their Maytag, Amana, and Jenn-Air brands in the Western U.S.

Maytag was making a push to grow their business in this sector, and they had hired several experienced builder specialists. Early on, we had a welcome get together at Maytag headquarters in Newton, Iowa.

We had dinner one evening at the Newton Country Club. When the waitress came by for drink orders, I asked for a glass of Chardonnay. When she brought my drink it had a fruity taste, not at all like Chardonnay. I mentioned this to her, so she returned with the bottle. It was Riesling. I pointed this out, and she replied, “Oh yes, that’s what we call Chardonnay.” Who knew you could do that? Later that evening I discovered that the golf course was an 11 hole layout. Somehow, it was all beginning to make sense.

Newton is a town of 15,000 residents about 30 miles from Des Moines, Iowa. I would rent a car for the half hour drive from the airport in Des Moines to the Maytag Headquarters. The downtown center of Newton is the Jasper County Courthouse. 

 

 

 

 

 

Each time I passed the Courthouse, I was reminded of the movie, Back to the Future. In front of the courthouse is diner, the Midtown Cafe. (Last Thursday’s special was tater tot casserole.) Farmers from the area gather there for their morning coffee and have the weather, and the crop reports blaring on the radio. Down the street there is a Maid-Rite, a fast food chain in Iowa, and nearby states. They are famous for their loose meat sandwich, a hamburger made from well…loose meat…no patty…just loose meat on a bun. I know; I don’t “get it” either. 

There was a Radisson Motel across the street from Maytag’s headquarters where we always stayed. Our hangout while in Newton, was the Scoreboard Bar and Grill- mostly bar, not much of a grill. That was really the only watering hole for those of us who were staying at the Radisson. Not much of a night life in Newton. For dinner, we usually drove somewhere outside of Newton. My favorite, about a half-hour drive to Grinnell was The Depot Crossing Restaurant. Named for the nearby train stop, the train still went by, it just didn’t stop there any more.

In addition to my regular visits to Maytag for business meetings, I was also responsible for product training for our western Maytag dealers and distributors. Maytag had a well-equipped training center in Newton, and I would regularly host 10-12 sales associates from builder distributors in my region to a 3 day 2 night trip to Newton, Iowa. We’d have a nice evening out on the first night, and on the second night the group would actually cook their own dinner in the Maytag and Jenn-Air kitchens supervised by one of Maytag’s home economists. The wine would flow freely, everyone had a great time, and we learned how to cook on the appliances that we were selling. The final day was a half day wrap up before departing to Des Moines for our flights home. 

In August 2005, Maytag was purchased by Whirlpool. On May 10th 2006, I was in Newton finishing up a training session. When I woke up in the morning I looked out my hotel room and noticed a couple of trucks with TV station markings and antennas in front of the training building. I knew something was up. My group was scheduled for a morning session before heading to the airport for our flights home. Well, that morning one of the facility managers came in to ask me what time she could have the training room. I told her that we’d be leaving the room at 11:30 to go to lunch. She wanted to be sure because they needed the room by noon. She was quite adamant. 

Our training room had a very nice appliance display in the front of the room where we had a speakers podium. The President of Whirlpool had flown in that morning to announce that Whirlpool was closing three Maytag factories as well as the Maytag headquarters in Newton, Iowa. They were going to use that backdrop in our training center for him to make the announcement.

WOW! I made sure that our 11:30AM lunch was quick, and that we were all in our cars and headed to the airport before all hell broke loose. I got to keep my job and worked for Whirlpool for several years before retiring. Newton, Iowa has survived and seems to be about the same, but I’m sure that they miss those good Maytag jobs.

Art Johnson

 

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Trump Will Lose The 2020 Election – But Don’t Take My Word For It

HEADLINES:

TRUMP WILL LOSE POPULAR VOTE IN 2020 – NBC News

TRUMP WILL LOSE 2020 ELECTION BY A LANDSLIDE – Daily Mail

TRUMP WILL LOSE IN 2020 – NY Times

PANDEMIC SURGE DAMAGES TRUMP, BOOSTING BIDEN’S WHITE HOUSE BID – ABC News

TRUMP KNOWS HE’S GOING TO LOSE – The Washington Post

STUDENTS WHO PREDICTED A TRUMP WIN THREE MONTHS AGO NOW THINK HE’LL LOSE – Newsweek

TRUMP ADMITS IT: HE’S LOSING – Politico

I know, I know…everybody predicted that Trump would lose in 2016, but look what happened. The truth is Trump was never under siege this way in 2016.

Here are the facts:

*87% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going. At the same time only 17% are proud of the country’s condition, and only 39% approve of Trump’s handling his job as president. As a result, Biden leads Trump in the polls by 10 points 54-44. This is significantly higher than Clinton’s lead at the same time in 2016. Moreover, Trump’s trend line is heading the wrong way!

But let’s look at Trump’s base. “White evangelical Protestants and older white men with less than a college education- are rock-solid.” How about white working-class women? They supported Trump by a whopping 27 point margin in 2016. The latest Quinnipiac survey shows that 47% of non-college-educated white women would “definitely not” vote for trump vs 43% who would. That’s a huge change!

While holding his own in his base of older white working class voters, Trump is losing among working class white voters under 40. Think about this. White American men under 40 (and women according to a separate poll) have lost faith in Trump.

Moreover, the all important geographic data is also working against Trump. He is shown losing where he most needs to win: the battleground states. A new Oxford Economics model shows Biden flipping Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. In addition, the same research shows Trump losing in Ohio, Iowa, and Missouri. (I’ve got my own concerns on Iowa and Missouri).

Just to reassure myself, and verify that I didn’t just grab Trump’s worst polls, I went to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website. He analyses and posts all the major polls. While noting that there is one poll that has Biden winning by 15 points, FiveThirtyEight has Biden currently leading Trump by an average of 9.1 percentage points. That’s very consistent with last week and last months numbers.

Silver’s key takeaway is not only that Biden is outpolling Trump overall, but he is and has been outpolling Trump in most swing states. If the election were today Biden would win, and win where it counts electorally.

Let’s look at the reasons for this. How do you think the economy is doing? How well is Trump doing in handling the coronavirus? Trump’s recent press conference speeches have been downright embarrassing.

Think of Trump’s strong points in campaigning. Big events, with lots of cheering fans, and lots of hoopla. How likely are we going to see stadiums full of Trump fans between now and election day? Then compare this with Trump’s lackluster and stumbling White House speeches and press conferences.

It’s hard to imagine a turnaround for Trump between now and November. All the Democrats need to do is keep Biden on track, keep the Russians out of our election, and sit back and watch Trump self-destruct.

*Brookings

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My New Blog: I’m back!

It’s been a few years since I’ve blogged on this site. Now, I’m back! What brings me here is Facebook. I believe that Facebook is often not the best venue for posting thoughtful comments, to take a political stand, or to express a strongly held opinion.

From now on, when I have the urge to blast out my dislike for Trump, to express other political viewpoints, or to speak out on any other topic that might take more than a few words to express; you’ll find me here.

My plan is to post a link to these blog posts on Facebook. Anybody, who wants to see what I have to say can click on the link to be directed here. Others can just move on to the latest Facebook photo of my dog, AZ weather report, family news/photos, vacation plans, and other common Facebook comments.

 

 

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Art Johnson, Author at Arizona Wholesale Supply

Source: Art Johnson, Author at Arizona Wholesale Supply

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GE Sells Appliance Unit to Chinese Firm, Haier

$5.4 Billion Sale Follows Failed Deal With Electrolux

Haier-GE

General Electric has announced the sale of its appliance division to the Chinese firm, Haier for 5.4 billion dollars. The sale includes GE's 48% share of Mabe, a Mexican based appliance firm. GE's previous attempt to sell its appliance operation to Swedish-based Electrolux Appliances was opposed by the U.S. antitrust authorities, and eventually terminated.

It's highly unlikely this sale will face such opposition, since Haier does not have a significant U.S. market share in large appliances such as full-sized washers, dryers, refrigerators, and ranges. This is good news for U.S. workers. While the sale to Electrolux was sure to bring some factory closings due to plant redundancies, Haier does not have the same large scale appliance manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

While GE had several very good options, this appears to be a very straightforward transaction, and GE got a nice increase in the sale price over the 3.3 billion dollars they would have received in the Electrolux deal.

There are many who would have preferred that GE Appliances would have remained U.S. owned, but there just aren't other US appliance firms that would be viable candidates. A spinoff might have been possible, but $5.4 billion must have seemed a lot better to GE.

Congratulations to GE Appliance management. They have a great team, and this deal should keep them fairly well intact, as well as thousands of factory workers.

 

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U.S. Sues to Stop Electrolux – GE Appliance Merger

FEDS Sue to Stop Electrolux Deal with GE Appliances

In a shocking move, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to prevent the 3.3 billion dollar sale of the GE Appliance business to Electrolux.

According to Chris Kenning of the Louisville Courier-Journal

The suit argues the move could lead to price increases as the combined company dominates sales of kitchen appliances to customers like home builders, property managers, hotels and government”.

Evidently, the big appliance retailers just sighed and shed a tear, but the big guys on the contract side of purchasing appliances weren’t afraid of going up against the big guys building all the appliances. As I have written before, monopoly is a bad deal – duopoly isn’t so great either with GE/Electrolux and Whirlpool dominating the contract side of the appliance industry (and also segments of the retail appliance industry sales).

I’m sure that there is more good data coming, so I don’t want to jump the gun. However, I’ve written about how bad the airline mergers were for the flying public, and also pointed out that GE selling their appliance business to Electrolux would be a bad thing for appliance buyers. Click on the links below:

GE Attempt at Deception Doesn’t Fool Anyone

US Appliance Manufacturer Selling Out

Who will buy GE’s appliance division?

The only surprise here is that the Feds are fighting the acquisition. My guess is they’re buoyed by “encouragement” from the building industry.

Time will tell.

P.S. It looks like Electrolux thinks that disposing of the Hotpoint brand will solve the problem. I really hope that the Feds can see through this for the canard that it is.

 

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