Many years ago Larry and I became acquainted through the Sales and Marketing Executive Club of Phoenix. Larry was what I call a "Corporate Angel." No, he didn’t have wings or a halo—he didn’t even have hair. Larry was short and stocky, yet when you met him, he made you feel good. Do you know people that when you’re with them they just make you feel good?
From our first meeting it was clear Larry had a way about him that seemed to draw others to him. He wasn’t good looking in a physical sense—hey, he was short, fat and bald. That’s how he’d describe himself. Yet, he was so attractive because of his smile, his gentleness and the tone of his voice.
Through our relationship in that business club we got to know each other, and the more I got to know Larry, the more likeable he was. He would direct his conversation to you—not to him. Larry would remember your discussions from last time and build on them the next time. It was so obvious he was interested in others. You know the opposite type—the person only interested in themselves. The kind of person who says to you: “OK, I’ve been doing all the talking and telling you how great and amazing I am, now it’s your turn, you tell me how great and amazing I am!” That wasn’t Larry Palder!
As our relationship grew he hired me to come into his company, Palder Equipment, and conduct a series of meetings. When asked, “What do you want these meetings to accomplish?” Larry said, “I just want you to help my employees believe in themselves and know that their lives are their choice. I want them to be very successful.”
That was different. So often my clients say their meeting objectives are to increase sales, stop complaining and whining, work a full day, prospect more, reduce costs, increase profits, etc. Not Larry—his mission was to uplift people and help them. He was a Corporate Angel.
Prior to our first meeting, Larry set a time on a Saturday for me to meet him at his company headquarters. That was different too—since his business was closed on Saturday. We met, we talked and then he said: “I wanted you to come in on Saturday when all my employees weren’t here so I could show you around.”
What he showed me has never been forgotten. Row after row of private offices furnished with expensive desks, chairs and files. Thick, expensive carpet flowed from office to office. I asked: “Are these for your Sales and Corporate officers?” Larry put his chubby fingers around my neck, gave me a quick squeeze, laughed and then said: “No, these are my machine shop workers' offices.”
Shocked, I said: “What does Palder Equipment do?”
“We sell and service industrial machinery. My employees are mechanics, machinists and millwrights. I’m the sales guy.”
That’s right, he provided executive offices for a bunch of dirty, greasy, hourly workers—my audience and his company family.
Shocked I said: “How can these offices be so clean and neat?”
"Oh, that’s easy. When they leave the shop to do paperwork or look something up, they wash their hands and remove their work boots. They take great pride in their office. For most of my guys, it’s the only office they ever had. When I first built this new building and set up their offices, Saturday was a busy day around here.”
“Oh,” I said. “Working harder to pay off your building costs?”
Larry smiled, grabbed my neck, squeezed and said: “No-o, it was so busy those Saturdays with their family tours. They brought their moms, dads, wives, kids, and one guy even brought his entire softball team to see his office!”
Now I got it. Larry was so successful in his business because he treated his employees with such respect and dignity. In return they gave him 200% commitment and unflinching loyalty. No tool theft. No wasted time on the job. No policing their every action.
Larry Palder, Corporate Angel, had discovered a timeless truth about people and business. It paid off financially. He was very successful that way, and it paid off emotionally too. Larry Palder was a happy man.