that early date, the Mosler Safe Company itself had an illustrious history, had Tony cared to find
out. Back in l891 it had built it’s first fire resistant safe. As early as 1938 it made large steel
castings useful in the development of the atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project. So
manyTokyobanks had installed Mosler vaults that when the U.S. Army was searching
for hidden hoards of Japanese gold in the aftermath of World War II, Mosler could give
them all the detailed floor plans they needed as well as hints of where to look. (1)
The history of IBM is so well known it hardly needs to be restated here. When in l933 at age 19 McLain Bernard Smith had been forced by economic necessity to drop out ofFordhamUniversityhe went to work for the young company and helped to build it. He rose from
salesman to second general manager of the Data Processing Division in l958, to group executive in l959. In l967 he joined IBM’s Management Committee and soon became Vice President in charge of European affairs. (2)
Meanwhile, back in the Ford Falcon convertible the fledgling safe salesman had accumulated many gas-reimbursed miles but he hadn’t sold a single safe. To his credit, he stuck with it, the surfer music and his extracurricular exploits carrying him through to football pre-season. At night he would retreat to his family’s summer home in Quogue where his “pop” would advise him to“keep plugging kid…. you’ll see what I mean when you make your first sale.”
A few years later when Major Smith, long known now as Mac, didn’t make IBM president he opted for early retirement at age fifty-five. He and Jane had separated and the house inSouthamptonhad long since passed out of the family. Mac was to live another thirty-five years, enjoying peaceful summers onLong Islandand wintering inLondonor inParis. After a rebellious phase Tony started his own consulting firm and began to embrace his father’s teachings. The two of them would often trade old and new war stories of their failures and successes.
When his young business was going through growing pains, Tony would sometimes wonder out loud how much to charge his clients for a coaching session. His dad would half-jokingly respond “raise ‘em ‘til they squeal.” Long before he would become immobilized by a fall down the front steps of his house and a back problem and other infirmities of old age and before he passed away in the summer of 2004, we would would sometimes gather for dinner at Villa Paul, one of his favorite restaurants. While nibbling on sesame crackers and bread sticks with butter and waiting for our dinner to be served, and after the usual niceties, and talk of politics, and old friends and family, the conversation between Tony and his dad would once again veer inevitably towards business…and the thrill of closing a sale!
Pages: 1 2