Genius Among Us
Bud’s hunch was right. Combining the Itek camera with the A.B. Dick duplicator was a defining moment in the industry, and became the launching pad for Kwik Kopy Printing. Over the years, under the umbrella of ICED, he created three other brands, acquired five, and learned some more important lessons by failing at a few endeavors. One of his oft-repeated, self-deprecating lines was, “There is a lot of money in picture framing, and $300,000 of it is mine.”
When it came to franchising, Bud was brilliant. While he was only average at running a printing business, he was a master at setting up an organization that excelled at training franchisees how to start and nurture their own locations. Having taught Dale Carnegie for 30 years, Bud knew how to read and motivate people. Many times you’d leave a conversation with him thinking “I handled that well,” only to realize he’d skillfully led you to the answer he wanted.
Franchisees of the ICED brands admired Bud for his tenacity. Many talked about hearing speeches at the annual conference, and being inspired by his passion and brought to tears by his stories. Yet, they were frustrated by his ‘we do it my way’ approach and disappointed when he remained at the helm into his eighties as energy and interest waned. There is truth in their sentiment. During our initial meeting, he told me, “The bloom is off the printing rose.”
Three days after signing my copy of his book “Wealth Within Reach”, Bud called me with a job offer. One month later I relocated. My first year at ICED included four different roles. Soon after starting the second position, he again had me changing directions. When I reacted with, “Bud, I just took this on, and my family’s not moving here for two weeks,” he replied, “Great, you start the day after they arrive.” Eventually, I settled in and spent five years in charge of marketing.
Of course, Bud told me a while later the reason I was ‘promoted’ to senior VP was because he got mad at something I did and didn’t want me reporting to him anymore as president of a brand. He had asked me for an analysis of the next two years. I dutifully met with our CFO, researched the industry, and suggested in a one-page summary – with Bud everything had to fit on one page – that it was going to be tough sledding. He didn't like my findings.
Early to Rise
Bud held weekly meetings with his management team. During my time, they were scheduled for 7:00 a.m. (Earlier regimes endured 5:30 starts.) For my first one, I showed up 10 minutes ahead of time and discovered the boardroom locked. I waited, wondering when others would arrive. In five minutes the door opened and everyone walked out. I learned my first lesson: Bud Time – the meeting begins when Bud is ready and ends within 15 minutes. I was never late again.
The monthly company meetings – at 7:00 a.m. – were like pep rallies. Amidst recognizing employees with Eagle Compliments and Bud Bucks, introducing new franchisees, and reporting financial results, one lucky team member would ‘choose a number and spin the wheel’. The pot increased $100 each time it missed, and eventually someone would hit and win a lot of money as her peers yelled wildly. Bud had worked at a midway carnival, and he liked games of chance.
The first year I worked for him, I’d receive calls on Sundays to come to his house to “discuss an idea I have.” One time as I was leaving, Bud gave me a prohibition-era numbers game in mint condition. These were lotteries where you’d pay $1, punch a hole, pull out a tiny slip of paper, and hope you were one of the few winners out of 1,000 chances. That gift is one of my prized keepsakes. (Those weekend requests stopped once I said Sundays were for my family.)