My little ad agency was finally starting to grow. Our first big client was a German car company. In-fact it was our only client. They were involved in a three-way venture, of sorts, with a Japanese and Italian car company. All three were competitors, but neither of the two other companies did much of the same business in the USA for the luxury market. The German firm did though and wanted another set of eyes for a new, low cost model. I used to work for a large firm that handled their other business.
I hated my boss! Hated, hated, hated him. Yes, there were a few personal reasons. Personal like he had seduced my girlfriend, I should say, ex-girlfriend into sleeping with him. I had decided to leave that company and the slag, with some semblance of my head held high. So I worked extra hard to complete my current assignments, to make them the very best campaigns that I could. You could say I was driven, driven by hate and a hope when I left they might miss me.
I had, rather we had, worked side by side more than a year. Market share went up nearly 4%. That may not seem like much but at $ .7 Billion a point it adds up. The clean-up work that I did for the German car company reflected that. When the last scores came in I offered to make myself available to answer any questions about the work I had done, I handed my contact my new card with the company name, P. B. & J. at a home address and a new telephone number, he took it and looked surprised.
“What is this?” he asked.
“It is where you can reach me if there are questions my replacement may be unable to answer?” Laughing a bit I said. “No charge for the first hour even. This is my last day here. I wanted to finish your campaign before I left, you have been a great customer and did not deserve anything less than my best efforts.”
I extended my hand, we shook and I turned to walk away, thus ending my eleven years at Moody, Hall and Peabody Advertising. As I started out of the plush conference room, Dieter said, “Thank you Paul, you did a good job for us.”
That meant a lot to me, it really did. My personal life had turned to things cows, pigs and horses would leave on the ground but I fought like Hell not to let it impact the quality of the work I did for the client. I had some time on my hands before I could get back into advertising with any competitor of my old company, but I had decided that I wanted to start over in something that I could control probably my own firm.
I really had nothing against the company I had, until today worked for, it was just that snake boss of mine. It was not in my nature to try and ‘steal’ clients away or disparage my former employer, so I decided to move and begin anew. I considered throwing a dart at a map then go there. Naw, I had been dealing with the automotive sector here in Detroit a long time. Mom and Dad still lived in Harper Woods and I just knew what ‘kind words’ my old boss would have to say about me here, if I stayed.
The economy was quickly changing, American and high-priced imports were no longer favourite choices to buy and ad dollars were now going to the lowest bidders, not the largest firm. Here I might have the advantage. One negative aspect of this industry were the unions. Their high costs were making most companies outsource components offshore and merely assemble in the US to comply with the protectionist policies here. It seemed the Southern States were not so unionized as in Detroit or California, so I headed South. I chose Atlanta, Georgia for my new office.
The Perimeter Center area had a ton of office space still un-rented and they were willing to deal on it. I had a long way to go before I would be secure enough to afford real offices, but I was able to find a Rent-A-Suite facility, get a phone number uniquely answered, and decent business cards made up showing a good address, and all for just $550 a month!. P. B. & J. was in business, and no longer resided in my parents basement.
I sent the first of my new business cards to Dieter. In a note, I explained that I had moved and kiddingly re-affirmed he could still ask me questions, but he would have to call me long distance now. I had no idea how fortunate and timely it would be for Dieter to get my new card.
About a week after I sent the new card, the phone rang in my ‘famously’ huge office (not) from the receptionist saying I had a call, would I take it, or should she take a message. So far, in one week, I had received two calls. One was trying to sell me a better telephone book listing, (this, in the age of the Internet?), the other had been my Mom. I was wondering to see who it would be now, I took the call; it was Dieter.
“So have you lit a large fire in your Atlanta, Paul?”
“Wait, I smell the smoke now, it is still burning. (As in Sherman’s march to the sea) Oh the in-humanity of it, Dieter!” (Line from radio coverage of the fire on the German Zepplin Hidenburg)
“Ha, ha! Very funny! I have a question?”
“Sure! Hold on, let me start the timer so if you run over your ‘free hour’ I can send you a bill. Shoot! What do you want to know, buddy?”
“Actually, yes, we are buddies. Your work on this last campaign has made me look good. My headquarters is pleased, very much so. Germany is quite pleased so much so, that there is a new, but small for now, venture which needs your ‘magic touch’. Do you think you and P. B. & J. might find the time to help your ‘buddy’ on it?”
“All kidding aside, Dieter; I loved working with you. But there is only me, now, and I do not want to take on something where you or Germany get less than they expected from me.”
“So hire a staff. Let’s get this going. I am sending you a retainer made out to P. B. & J. and a contract for twenty-four months to launch a new car line. It’s a re-designed ‘Smart’ car, this time cars will be designed for an American and other markets seperately. Our initial push will be to sign new dealers, establish a new distribution network and sales channels, it will take well over a year, maybe more than two even. Know anyone with automotive experience in Atlanta, buddy?”
“Dieter, I’m getting misty all of a sudden. You don’t have to be doing this! It is like a dream come true!”
“Yes, I do! I need your help, besides, if I have more questions maybe you will give me a discount on them. By the way, in addition to the retainer, Germany wants to send you a little bonus for the last work you did for us. Oh! Also by the way, the budget for this initial American project is $50 million plus your standard 15% fee. I will be sending you $1 million in advance to be our exclusive agency for the ‘Smart II’ campaign. Bill me here each month for the actual expenses. Fax me back the signed contract. We will also need to discuss setting up a similar arrangement for Mexico, Brasil, Argentina and Chile next month. As one of our partners would say, Ciao, now buddy.”
I fumbled hanging up the phone. Not only was this totally un-expected, it was making me question how I would make such an effort even work. Before I could decide to jump out the window or call Dieter back to see if this was just some dream, the phone rang again. It was Julie the receptionist.
“You have someone here to see you Mr. Jacob’s. Should I send her back?”
Stuttering, I told Julie yes. I had no idea who even knew I was in Atlanta. I knew I had not owed enough for a bill collector. A well dressed young lady entered.
“Mr. Paul Jacobs?”
“May I see some ID please?”
I showed her my drivers license and as a joke my hotel room key at the Wyndam Hotel nearby. She took the license, wrote something down, looked at the room key, raised her eyebrows, then waved her finger at me saying, ‘naughty boy’ handed back the license, an envelope and a small box. As she left, she turned back and asked, “What room was that again, I don’t get off until six this evening.”
That and the sexy look she gave me made my day, no my week. Added to the phone call and my first account being Dieter I did not see how life could get any better. I would soon find out that it could. I opened the envelope. Inside was a cashier’s check for $1 million, made out to P. B. & J. with a notation it was a retainer for ‘Smart II’. It was signed by Dieter M. Daimler, President American Operations, Daimler-Benz and Daimler Worldwide Enterprises.
I began to cry. It was then I saw the inscription on the top of the box. It simply said, ‘Buddy’.
I opened the box. Inside was a folded note, an American quarter and two sets of keys and ‘clickers’. I read the note. ‘The cars have GPS and ‘auto call’ to our new customer service center, but in case you get lost or have a question, use the quarter and call me on an ‘888’ number. There is no charge.’
One key set was tagged as S-500 the other SL-550. I could not keep my eyes open, tears kept running from them. When I finally composed myself enough I decided to leave the office early and also asked Julie if she could do a few things.
“Julie, would it be possible to get a larger office in addition to this one and maybe a large open room with desks for a half dozen people. They will need phones, computers, maybe a couple of printers and we all need to be on a network. The regular business type of software should do and a dedicated conference room with a projector, overheads, some whiteboards and paper easels. I need to make arrangements for a bit of travel and with an employment agency to hire permanent and temp staff.”
“Good news, I take it?”
“The best. Now I need good people and only 20 or 30 more offices around the country.”
“We are a ‘full service company’ boss, just tell me what you need, how much you have to spend and when you need it by. Flowers and dinner might be nice too?” I got that ‘Cheshire Cat’ smile from her.
“Julie if you are serious, order yourself the biggest arrangement of flowers they have. We get lobster, champagne and caviar for dinner tonight and you be here by 8 am tomorrow morning, then we will start getting this show on the road.”
I held the check out for her to see. “Is there a good bank still open around here?”
She punched a button on her phone, picked up her ‘survival kit’, (Purse) got up, and walked over to me. She took me by the arm and said, “Walk this way!” as we started down the lift.
I mumbled, “If I walked that way, you might want to call me Percy instead of Paul.” Her answer was to sway her hips even more, now bumping into me from time to time. When we got downstairs and out the door I froze. Parked in-front were two gleaming examples of German engineering at their finest. I remembered the keys. I asked, “Would Madam prefer the Blue, or the Gray, car tonight?”
She reared back and looked at me funny. I took one of the fobs from my pocket and hit the clicker. The S-500’s lights came on. “The Blue one it is, walk this way please?” She did not seem as amused as I was.
The car was beautiful, though not quite as attractive as Julie was now that I saw more of her than I did while she was sitting behind a desk. She was tall. Actually, she had long legs and did not mind showing them off. The rest of her left no doubt she was female ... a very healthy female. Man, I thought, what was she doing here? In NYC or LA she could be a model. I made a mental note to call some friends there and see what they could offer her.
We went to Peoples Bank. It was so close we could have walked, then again I looked over at my soon to be dinner companion and had nasty thoughts in which she was the main player. One thing I learned though was that office romances could turn bad. My thoughts turned back to my Ex-girlfriend and Ex-boss. I looked again at Julie and damn if I could even remember my Ex’s name anymore. The thought of Julie Jacobs, Julie Jacobs kept running through my mind. I wanted to take pen and paper in hand and write it like some schoolboy. Sorry, I digress.
Not sure if I opened her door because I was being a gentleman or I wanted to see those long legs one more time. No matter, she caught me looking and I turned red. We entered the bank, it was near closing but she did not seem deterred. We turned to the right, and she knocked on a closed wooden door, one that wasn’t in the row of open offices to the left. A voice was heard.
“Yes, who is it?”
“It’s the boogey man! and if you don’t open this door, I’ll huff, and I’ll puff and blow the door down!”
There was a buzz and then Julie opened the door and walked in, I followed. She must have said some kind of codeword. Go figure.
“Mom, this is Paul Jacobs, he needs to open up a business account and maybe a personal one too. He is one of my new tenants.”
OK!, Mom it is, then.
“Hello, Mr. Jacobs, I’m certain we can help you. We are a full-service company, you know.”
Now I knew where Julie got that line from.
“Ahh, Mrs. err Mrs ... Julie’s Mom?.”
“Chambers, Ms. Brenda Chambers.”
“Right, Ms. Chambers. This all is a bit late I know, but I am in the advertising business, automotive, mainly and one of my old clients just retained my services for a new campaign. It’ll be several campaigns in-fact, not all of which will be in the USA. I am previosly from Detroit, so this area is new to me. Julie advised coming here, and I guess I need everything, both business as well as personal.”
“Well, Mr. Jacobs, we pride ourselves in not only Southern Hospitality, but we maintain several relationships with foreign and domestic financial institutions. I’m sure we can earn your trust and do a wonderful job for you.”
“I really appreciate anything you can do. I need first to deposit a check and open an account for my business.” I handed her the envelope with the check.
“It should be no problem Mr. Jacobs. I’ll make the deposit, but you will also need to provide me a copy of your business certification a well as obtain the signature and approval for the account from an officer with the authority to sign such documents.”
She was opening the envelope to extract the check. Julie started to giggle and placed her hand to her face to hide her look.
“‘Paul’, please. Mr. Jacobs is my father. I can sign whatever you need, I own the company.”
Ms. Chamber looked at the check then at Julie, then at me.
“But, but, ... but this is a check for $1 million dollars! A cashier’s check!”
“Yes, I know. It is drawn on from Credit Swiss Bank, but they have branches here in the US. Is that is going to be a problem?”
“This is for $1 Million. No, Mr. Ja ... I mean Paul. it’s just that it is a check for $1 million dollars.”
I felt a hand on mine, it was Julie. I looked over at her. She was trying very hard not to laugh.
“Ms. Chambers, we are a ‘full service’ ad agency a funny kind of business. We incur expenses on behalf of our clients. We pay our bills on a thirty 30 days net basis. Our clients pay us 30 days net, and we add a reasonable percentage for profit and overhead each quarter. A gross-plus system, if you will. If your bank could factor our monthly receivables, it would allow us to do more business with smaller, less established firms, like dealers or suppliers; until they elected to become part of our the client organization. We won’t need this immediately, but I have been in this business a long time and know this particular customer very well. In my opinion, we will need to start factoring, in about eleven or twelve months.”
“Yes, it will take some time for new customer factoring. About how much do you think the monthly amount would be?”
“Initially, small; but a rough estimate would be twenty to tweny-five each month.”
“That should no problem, for that small amount I can approve even fifty thousand a...”
“Ms. Chambers, that’s twenty-five million a month. Million. If the campaign is successful, then new construction loans and car stocking and floor display planning would make that closer to $300 - $500 million per month. If I know my customer, he will want to keep this new line separate from his other lines. He has already sold one car company in the US, (Chrysler) and this will compete in a new market segment.”
From the reaction, I guess it was too much. Julie was turning red trying not to laugh. We stayed at the bank way past closing. I got my receipt, and an account with an ‘I promise to return the next day to sign more forms and cards’. I told Ms. Chambers, Brenda now, that Julie and I had to go get some dinner.
“Together?” she asked.
“Yes, do you care to join us; we’re will going to ‘Pittypat’s -Pat’s Porch’.”
She looked at us funny, shook her head and softly said “NOoooo!”.
Julie could no longer take it. She got up, squeezed her legs together and franticly waved her hands up and down saying. “Pee, pee, pee, I can’t stand it!”
As Brenda buzzed open her door, Julie escaped. Brenda then asked me how I felt about older women. I think my self-esteem soared through the roof. I again had new respect for the customer service rep who’d made the dinner reservation for this evening. Daimler-Benz seemed to elicit some special treatment, even here in Atlanta.
Julie emerged, still flapping her hands up and down, laughing, almost crying, and making strange snorting noises.
“Oh, God!, I think Mom is still in shock. When you gave her that check to deposit, it started, then when you threw out those figures, that did it. The kicker was when you said ‘We!’, ‘We’ were going out to dinner, then she totally lost it. No newbie can even get a reservation at ‘The Porch’, even for us ‘natives’ it’s a five or six month wait. But you, Mr.’ new-in-town’, just act like it’s no big deal to go there.”
“Well it’s not, is it?”
She burst into a near fit now, laughing.
On the way, her cell phone started playing the William Tell Overture. She answered.
“Ahh, well, we’re on our way to grab some food. Ahh ... Ha, a friend from work. Ahh, sec.”
She covered the mouthpiece of her cell. Whispered. “It’s my boyfriend. He went to pick up my sister, he wants to know if he should go to my house or meet me to drop off my sister. Oh, Hell! He wants to know who I am with?”
“It’s OK Julie, What’s his name?”
“Okay, may I have the phone?” She handed it to me. I knew I needed to stop so I pulled over.
“Hello, John, this is Paul Jacobs. I am a new tenant of Julie’s and needed to find a bank here. Julie had been showing me where things are. We just left her Mom’s bank, where I opened up an account. If it’s not too late, why don’t you and her sister meet us for dinner? Later she can go with you, and I can take her sister back to her Mom’s house. No, it’s no trouble at all, we are just on our way. My GPS says 22 twenty-two minutes. ‘Pittypat’s-Pats-Porch’. It’s under Daimler-Jacobs. Great, see you there.”
I handed Julie back her phone. I had a smug look on my face. I remembered all too well how a girl like Julie could elicit a protective bent from a boyfriend. I did not want a dinner to be the cause of any bad feelings. I glanced at the girl next to me, and thought to myself how lucky John was to have such an honest and sincere girlfriend. I only wished mine had been half as good as Julie seemed to be.
Traffic was a bit heavier than the GPS forecast. We made it in 25 minutes. Julie looked around but did not see John’s car. We went inside. “Reservation for Daimler-Jacobs” I said. “We are now 4, 2 will join us shortly.”
“Would you care to be seated or do you wish for a drink first? We have a place for you outside on ‘The Porch’ this evening, is that agreeable or would you prefer inside?”
Looking over to Julie, and seeing no disagreement from her I nodded the outside was fine. A few minutes after we were seated, a man and a girl were brought over.
“Nope, sorry, that’s my Dad, I’m Paul. You must be John?”
That broke the ice.
“This is Ginny, Jul’s younger sister.”
I stood and took her hand in mine and something happened. If one can be bewitched or made instantly to fall in love, that’s what happened. I had told the customer service rep I wanted lobster, champagne and caviar, so they just extended that, and to began dinner for the four of us.
I’m glad they did. John went over to Julie, gave her a kiss and pulled her close, showing some kind of ownership. I kept holding Ginny’s hand in mine. Not sure how long it was, but we kept looking into each other’s eyes.
I heard my name being called a few times, maybe. We were still standing, hand in hand, when I felt a tapping on my shoulder.
“Earth to Paul, Earth to Paul!, you’d better feed the poor thing or she might keel over. This is the best I have ever eaten.”
“I almost crashed on top of Ginny as she sat down. It did not seem to matter, she pulled me closer as we sat. John and Julie just looked at each other with a huge smile. John seemed at ease now. Me, you could tell me pigs were outside flying about, and I would not move an inch. More food was placed in front of Ginny and myself. She moved her soft luscious lips near my ear and asked what should she do about the champaigne.
“I’m not twenty-one, yet!”
I won’t detail everything, needless to say. I hand fed her each morsel of food and drink that night. When it was time for the bill, I was informed that ‘the company had already taken care of everything’. Dieter no doubt.
John said something to me about getting Ginny’s bag from his car put into mine. Julie took Ginny to freshen up. I was still playing a Zombie. Ginny and Julie had to walk me out.
John was putting Ginny’s bag in the trunk of my car and once Ginny was inside the car, Julie said to me. “You two have it bad. I’ll be at your hotel at 9 am instead of 8 am. The three of us can have breakfast and talk. I’ll take care of mama, tonight, but I won’t have to say very much. I think she fell for you, too. Night.” and she gave me a little kiss.
I got into the car. Ginny said she already had set the GPS for the hotel. Then she took my arm and snuggled close. I drove one-handed the entire way. I dared not move. Valet service took the car away. The doorman waved and a young man took her bag inside to the room when I showed him my room key, we followed.
Somehow, we never made it to bed. I don’t remember any floor ever being that comfortable! There was this tremendous sound, the phone ringing I think it was. Ginny had the right idea. She picked it up, said something, then went back into my arms.
“Jul. I told her to go eat, that we had things to do here yet.”