by Tim Cromley, Marketing Manager
I began working with the Walker Talk project in 1995 and, even though I had a lot more hair back then, what I didn’t have was a clue about how unique the opportunity was that I was beginning to experience. See, the way stories are gathered for Walker Talk is usually by an interaction Bob Walker or one of our staff had with a customer, whether in the field or by correspondence. Then, as we get to know these people, we realize that their stories would be great to share with others. Typically, this means that we hand off the story to our editor, Rod Dickens, and he contacts the customers, makes a visit, gets to know them by listening to their stories, takes photos and then writes their stories.
What is unique for me in this process is that I have been fortunate to be on both sides of this equation. An integral part of my job as Marketing Manager is to interact with customers—whether at shows, open houses, online or a host of other ways. As I talk with customers, I often say to myself: “What a great story … I wish everyone could hear it.” And many times, I submit their names to be profiled in Walker Talk.
Sometimes, because of scheduling or other reasons, I have the opportunity to field some of our stories, which means I get to know some customers even better and then get to share their stories through my eyes. It is a unique vantage point because I not only get to know them better, but I am also charged with the task of carefully handling their story and telling it the way they often so passionately told it to me.
Since Volume 50 is a reflection on past customers, let me share a couple of lessons I have learned in my time on this project:
Everyone has a story. This may sound so simple, but we learned that, if we take the time to listen to the stories of how people have come to know us, we are often profoundly impacted to continue to work as hard as we can to help them continue their story, as our company and product may be playing a role. Bob Walker calls it energy and he is right; I gain energy to continue to work hard when I see how our cumulative efforts as a company continue to encourage others in the extended Walker family.
“People still like doing business with people.” I give credit for this quote to the late Walker pioneer, Bob Oestreich, from Precision Work Inc. who developed the northeastern states for Walker. He said this at a Walker distributor meeting about 15 years ago and it is still true today. We do have fancier technology today than we did then and we can communicate in some incredible ways, but I believe that, if Bob were still alive, he would still be talking with people face to face and truly getting to know them. People are truly the story of Walker Talk.
It was exciting to work on Volume 50 as we caught up with people from our earlier issues. In doing so, we were reminded what an honor it is to play a small role in the lives and successes of these customers. To be sure, it gives us energy and a greater appreciation for this unique vantage point.