Yesterday was a weird day. One of our wholesalers held a convention in Lancaster and I attended. I left Philly at around 9am and got there less than 2 hours later traveling east on 30 for most of the drive. Along the way I stopped at a Wawa to get gas and as I was outside filling up, the song “Hold Me Now” by the Thompson Twins was playing on the speakers above the pumps. Oddly enough, my FirstWave station on XM was playing the same song. I confirmed that the two speakers weren’t on the same stations and left shaking my head.
Don’t get me wrong, Hold Me Now, is a great song with over 850,000 Youtube views, but the timing of this is unbelievable. Two various stations, play a song that was made 30 years ago, at the same time, while I’m sitting there to notice it. This has to be one in a million. I left the gas station wondering if this was some sort of a sign and that I should be looking to hold anything in sight.
I arrived in Lancaster early for the show and decided to get a few new articles of clothing for my upcoming European adventure. I will note that the pricing of these outlets is phenomenal. These aren’t your typical outlets where even though they are called outlets, they have normal pricing. Things were heavily discounted. I got a brand new style pair of Puma’s for $45 bucks, 2 nice Calvin Klein button downs for $35 dollars each, a pair of pin stripe pants for $35, a Jos A Bank bomber jacket for 70, and some knitted boxers and plain white t-‘s for $40 bucks. The boxers and t’s seemed expensive for what that’s worth but I got about half a dozen of each. I was completely satisfied as the goods are all high quality.
Onward to the next coincidence. I’m at the show and everything is pretty low key which I expect from something held near Amish country. At 5pm there is a dinner which I was giving a ticket to. I only knew a few people at the show of this pretty tight knit group where everyone knows everyone and decided to eat dinner by myself. I sit down at one of the tables and eat rapidly to not have to be a loner for too long. As I was eating, a woman of about 45-50 sits down next to me asking me if I’m sitting alone. I welcomed her to the table and we began talking.
To start the conversation I jumped to a conclusion based on her company’s location and name that we’ve sold our line of tools to her. Naturally I was confused with another customer with a similar name and came off like a moron to start but that’s what you get for assuming. Either way she brushed it off (she sold paint if you catch that one) and she told me about her business and how well she was doing with Facebook. I said I have 100 likes, she said she has 22,000.
Turns out, this woman was the owner of a company that was started in 1816 and she was the 5th generation. If you know anything about me and our business, our company started in 1853 and I was the 5th generation. Here are the stats on businesses that last this long, “The Family Firm Institute says only 12% of family-owned businesses stay viable into the third generation, and only 3% are alive at the fourth-generation level and beyond.” So here I am again overcoming unbelievable odds to meet this person. If there were say 300 people who attended the show that day, I met probably the only one who would spur this blog post. I would say this was easily less than 1% shot of meeting this random person who has such a similar business experience as me.
Considerations, if I ate with someone instead of choosing to eat by myself, this would never have happened. If I ate at a different time. If I didn’t go back to get a slice of prime rib I would have left before she got there. Meeting her made my day and trip. If I did nothing else that day other than meet that woman, it was a success. We shared family stories and various ideas on maintaining the longevity of a business. It was wonderful and I came out of it with more ideas I would never of had sitting at 210 Vine St. That’s why people are the most powerful source of information. Knowledge is power. Coincidence is an even higher power.