Our company history begins on days when I didn’t have school. You see, that’s when I got to go to work with my dad. Bill Ross, my dad, was the kind of salesperson that I found fascinating. Dad could be selling Fuller Brush, costume jewelry or even computer security systems, but what I observed was that the man doing the selling was just as important as the goods he sold. Always dressed in a shirt, tie and jacket, my dad, Bill Ross was that rare breed of businessman who said, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Bill Ross was the foundation for any successful company to base its history on. He was strong and confident and could sell anything. When computer systems became the big thing, Dad learned all he could about them even though he never used a computer at home. His approach with his customers was “I’m just like you,” because Bill Ross’s approach was all about building relationships. Certainly Dad looked good, smelled good and dressed impeccably. But beyond appearances, throughout his professional life, Bill Ross initiated and then took the time to cultivate and sustain relationships, not only with potential customers but with current and past customers as well. Bill Ross had a warm and engaging smile that put clients at ease because for Bill it was not only making the sale – it was making a friend.
I recall how, when I was about six or seven years old, Dad would take me along as he made “cold calls,” something most salespeople dislike with a passion. Not Bill Ross. He loved what he termed “the adventure” of the cold call. He genuinely loved meeting new people, hearing their stories and sharing their news so that what began as a cold call became a friendly exchange. Dad’s next visit included a handshake, maybe a hug, and often a sincere question about a mom in the hospital or a son off to college. Over and over again I saw my dad turn a cold call into a budding friendship. Customers and clients understood that their friend Bill Ross would tell the truth about a product or service, offer help and guidance and admit when he was wrong. Bill Ross built relationships on a foundation of trust.
Fast forward twenty years to 1988. That was the year that I started my own practice in New York City. Quickly I learned that there were few business models to draw upon, especially for women entrepreneurs, that offered successful business strategies. If I was going to survive then I would have to find my own path. Little did I know then that the path would lead, not forward at first, but backward – back to my dad. All of those things that I learned from my father, about friendship, honesty, discipline and relationship building I could now apply to my own business initiative. The lessons I learned from my dad became the foundation for the company which proudly bears his name, The William David Company.” Thanks, Dad.