Many years ago, in the early 70’s, my then business partner (and friend to this day) Ed O’Reilly and I faced a crisis in our recently founded business. We had formed Bartizan Corporation to produce a low-cost credit card imprinter, the once ubiquitous device used at point-of-sale to record a credit card transaction. We had a prototype, but the resulting product was riddled with tooling mistakes, rendering it totally useless. Nearly broke, we came into contact with Automatic Injection Molding and its owner Charlie Serretti. Where others had told us the job was hopeless, Charlie encouraged us. AIM made the tooling work. We didn’t have funds to produce more than 1,000 sets, but Charlie explained that any less than 10,000 sets was uneconomical. Charlie insisted that we go forward, allowing payment deferrals until we could afford to pay – if we could afford to pay.
Bartizan wasn’t an immediate success, not by a long shot. It took us nearly 10 years to become an “overnight success”. During that time, Ed, with a family to support, moved on. Charlie stood by us, his support never wavering. We remained Charlie’s customer for many years until he sold the business and retired. Throughout the relationship, I never asked Charlie for a quote on a job, although our purchases typically ran to five and six figures. I simply sent him a signed purchase order and let him fill in the price.
Why did Charlie and I have so much trust in one another? Probably because we initially had met face-to-face. My guess is that had we conducted our initial contact by phone or mail (this was early 70’s, remember? No Internet, not even fax), the relationship would never have developed and Bartizan Corporation would have been short lived.
Charlie Serretti is no longer with us, but to this day he serves as an inspiration for me. He knew how to conduct business, but more importantly, Charlie knew how to conduct life.