Individual connections matter in business, a point Tony Wrisinger was making at Thursday’s Eastern Jackson County Business Expo.
He relaunched his product, 1030 AM Real Country, on Feb. 1.
“We’re hearing from people today that they really miss old country music, and they’re glad to hear that again,” he said.
But Wrisinger was using the event to make a few other points as well. This is a local business. KCWJ is in Independence, and, he said, is tied to Eastern Jackson County in a way the bigger stations in Kansas City aren’t. He said events such as Thursday’s also aren’t about making sales as much as they are about shaking hands and starting that conversation.
“It’s basically meeting people instead of a cold call on the phone,” he said. “You meet them face to face.”
That was the focus all afternoon and evening at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The expo involved eight area chambers of commerce, had 65 exhibitors and was expected to draw 1,500 to 2,000 visitors.
The event was preceded by a luncheon at which Mary B. Lucas shared some of the story told in her book, “Lunchmeat & Life Lessons: Sharing a Butcher's Wisdom.”
She’s the daughter of John Bichelmeyer, who founded the well-known Bichelmeyer Meats in Kansas City, Kansas, 70 years ago.
“No matter what you do for a living, you’re in the people business,” she said, adding that the key to success is making meaningful connections with people one at a time.
She said her father had a huge butcher block table in the kitchen at the family home and where all would gather. Sometimes he would summon one of his children or grandchildren to join him for thinly sliced salami on white bread -- “the best thing ever,” she said -- and maybe some warm German beer, and some advice.
Lucas has spent her career in the personnel staffing business. His advice to her when she got out of school and landed a job: “The first hunk of meat you sell is yourself.”
She rolled her eyes, she said, but she also came around to what he was getting at and said the “best education I ever got in my life on how to succeed in the people business was from my dad.”
Go the extra mile, he told her, especially for the customer having a tough day or the client for whom you have bad news. The extra effort matters, and people remember it, he said.
The book begins with the day of that conversation and ends the day he died.
Even as his death was imminent, she said, he faced it with humor and calm.
But, she asked her dad, what am I to do?
“Mary, that’s easy,” she recalled him saying. “Your mother and I have taught you well. Inspire yourself. You’ll figure it out.”
She did not plan to become an author, but bearing in mind the words on her father’s tombstone -- “To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die” -- she was moved to compile a book just for the family. She said making color copies cost $57 apiece at Kinkos -- hardly the makings of a best seller.
A copy made its way to local business leader, who called and said he wanted 500 copies for his sales force. She found a self-publishing company, ordered 1,000 and figured that would be that.
To date, the book has sold 56,000 copies.
“And it’s all been word of mouth,” she said.