Used Computer Dealer Thrives
Pace/Butler Corp. started on $62.53 and thrived for three years before almost going bankrupt.
what happens when you create a company with no knowledge and no capital and
the business is changing fast," founder Tom Pace said.
If Pace did
not quite reach rock bottom, he was close to it, he said. What turned it around
was something Pace discovered and now passes along to each employee and client.
In his words,
he learned to pair "high-tech and soft touch." It's a topic he will
discuss Oct. 10 as the luncheon speaker for the International Association of
Business Communicators meeting at Metro Tech Vocational Technical Center.
Not only did
the Oklahoma City used computer dealer survive, he prospered. Within five years
he expanded Pace/Butler to 30 employees with sales of $3.5 million.
Today he has a national client base. He counts some of the biggest companies in the world - including IBM - among his customers.
In his favor,
he said, was his timing. The market was huge for buying, refurbishing, selling
and delivering used IBM midrange equipment. A rebuilt machine could bring between
$10,000 and $2.5 million.
But his personal
odds of success were not as bright. He was a college dropout who managed to
exit high school as a functional illiterate, he said. After working four months
for computer sales people, he started his own company as a broker-refurbisher-reseller.
to have someone install my first PC (personal computer)," he recalls. "That's
how ignorant I was."
the early years, he borrowed $11,000. He was about to lose it and everything
else when he realized he was repeating some old habits of failure.
an Oklahoma City adviser, Louis Gandara, for introducing him to the quality
control principles of American business consultant W.E. Demming.
out I had the right people in the wrong jobs," Pace said. "We reorganized
from top to bottom. Secretaries became sales people. Some people left. And we
came up with a value statement, goals, a mission statement and an atmosphere
created an environment where the company and employees can be successful. Nothing
was hidden - not company sales, financing or deals, he said.
employees own their own homes and have 401K savings plans.
"high-tech, soft-touch" atmosphere includes a company-wide meeting
for anyone on the staff. There's also a personal development class from 7:30
to 9 a.m. Mondays.
"It's an investment in people. It's also good for business."
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