This long letter continues.
The Old Homestead in Trumbull, CT
For the last three or four years, I have not made a single sales call. Every customer I have has either continued from old times, been recommended by some other customer or has seen our ad in the city directory or phone book. And if I may be a bit crude, this is a hell of a way to run a business. It does hold out rosy promise however, for the time when there is a young guy in who, with the enthusiasm of youth, up-and-at-‘em spirit, will go out and do some aggressive sales work, for without any adequate sales effort or direct mail advertising, we can hold a backlog of business, it will stand us in mighty good stead when we start up a real fire. From a financial standpoint I have learned a very significant thing. We are better off on a profit and loss basis than we have been for 10 years and this, in spite of curtailed business, shortage of supplies, high taxes and inadequate help, which we have had to struggle during the past four years (and are still struggling for that matter). It is almost solely because the only laborers wages I have had to pay have been exclusively for work performed. No salaries, which quickly eat up profits in non-productive hours during the day. If you could find some worker who would be willing to work steadily from opening time in the morning to quitting time at night, and had orders flowing in regularly to correspond, then the income from sales would be sufficient to pay salaries and leave a margin of profit, but for the six or eight years when I had salaried help and a bigger volume of business than we have now, we always ended the year in the red. That, Dave, my boy, is one of the management problems that will be dumped in your lap when you take over. As for the help situation, the green, irresistible, unreliable, inexperienced people that will come in and work for a high salary would soon make for bankruptcy, so I am forced to hire mere children with no sense of responsibility, no business sense, no idea of dependability or sense to know how they can tie things up when they failed to show up after saying they will come in at a certain time to do a certain job, high school kids or even grammar school children, letting them do the routine while I devote my time to operations that require even the most elementary brain work. It’s exasperating and if I would let it be, nerve-racking and I would very much like to take a vacation from it all for a spell, but we hold the fort awaiting the arrival of the new commander in chief, and in the meantime we are not doing so bad. As for machinery, we are keeping the old stuff going and getting fairly good results by patching and replacing and repairing, but I am looking forward to the day with a surplus property release some of the equipment the Army has taken off the market for the last few years at which a service man, theoretically at least, would have a far better opportunity of obtaining than a mere civilian. Months ago I asked for a list of this equipment that might be available but in true government fashion, I got a letter referring me to someone else and promising the information, not a bit of which has yet materialized. Among the items I have tentatively put on this Wanted List are: a new power mimeograph, possibly a multility, new multi-graph, possibly a varityper, a new variscope (or similar), a paper cutter, keyboard graphotype, etc. (I realize all this is very uninteresting to any but Dave and perhaps not too much for him, but I’m over it now). Dave’s letter goes on to tell about a symphony orchestra but I guess I’d better skip this and go on to the French Dept.
News From Dan tomorrow and I’ll end the letter on Friday with bits and pieces of local news.