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Last Update: Friday August 7, 2020

Key Idea: See Problems As Challenges

Small business owners are tough because we face big problems everyday and we can't let one of them bring us down.  Rick Presant turned a major snow storm into a positive experience.

Key Question:


Use a big problem to come up with an elegant solution.  Small business owners do this regularly.   We have to face the problem and figure out how to solve the problem. There is no one to blame, to bail up out or run interference for us. We stand often naked in front of the problem. Over time we learn that Murphy's Law is more than true and that Lily Tomlin may be right when she said, "No matter how cynical you get, it's hard to keep up."

Q: What problem did Rick take on as a challenge?

A: He thought that he could use a generic catalog to build his new apartment division but it didn't work. Up against a deadline, he created his own catalog by camping out at All Brand for four days working 18-20 hours every 24 hours! He was helped by a snow storm that literally forced him to stay inside and although he laughs about the situation now, it clearly demonstrates the dogged determination we see in all successful small business owners.

Think about it

What problems are on your desk right now? Why aren't you solving those problems? What should you do next to turn the problems into challenges?

Clip from: All Brand Appliances

Mount Ephraim, New Jersey: In this episode of the show we go to Main Street America (just outside Philadelphia) to look at a classic family business, one that exists in most communities in America but seems to be threatened by new distribution systems and mega-stores like Lowe's and Home Depot. Talk about pressure... Yet, these small businesses may actually thrive in our fast-paced, ever-changing business culture. Best practices is what they do.

If a washing machine breaks, the parts needed to fix it are on the shelf of their store. Owned and run by brothers, Rick and Jeff Presant, the pros, the handyman, and the weekend warriors (honey-do's), are all welcomed to buy appliance parts at All Brand Appliance. With 12 employees and hundreds of ever-faithful customers, these two are building a business on kindness. That's right, kindness.

To prepare to buy All Brand from their father, Rick had his own supply company in another territory and Jeff worked for others.

Go to all the key ideas and videos of this episode...

All Brand Appliance (RP)

Rick Presant, Co-owner

170 North Black Horse Pike
Mt. Ephraim, NJ 08059

Visit our web site:

Office: 800-736-5870

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1984

See Problems As Challenges

HATTIE: (Voiceover) One of the ways Rick keeps their name in front of customers is by producing a newsletter.

RICK: We started, I guess, about three years ago.

HATTIE: And who gets it? Who receives this?

RICK: Wholesale accounts--the, you know, apartments and the services. There'll be some items, maintenance, I put appliance parts, and then I put I guess you would call 'em crossover parts.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Rick developed a catalog which makes it easier for customers to do business with All Brand.

RICK: Jeff, our salesman, told us from the beginning eventually we're gonna need a catalog. But, you know, I kept running into these financial roadblocks, I couldn't afford one. So our first plan was to buy a stock catalog and put our name on it. And that did absolutely nothing. We tried that a couple of times.

HATTIE: You did that.

RICK: Yeah.

HATTIE: But no one responded.

RICK: Nothing, because it really wasn't laid out right and it didn't have the maintenance supplies in it. Finally, I just woke up one morning and said, `I'm doing the catalog. I'm gonna do this maintenance section, and that'll be it, and I'll get what I want.' Well, at that point, I started working--it was seven days a week, I guess it was 80 to 90 hours a week. I lost track. But when we got the first few pages back and the proofs, we were really excited. It was what we wanted and it was clean, it looked good, and I became possessed.

HATTIE: You didn't know how talented you really were.

RICK: Well, I was happy. It was satisfying, but, you know, all the hours you're sitting there, you're saying to yourself, `Is this really gonna work? This better do what I want it to.' It was gonna be tough meeting the deadline, though. I mean, we wound up adding a lot more because it looked so good. I wound up getting a little help, though, from good old Mother Nature. We...

HATTIE: The weather?

RICK: The weather. I guess it was the first Saturday in January that they were talking about a major winter storm. So I called my wife and I said, `Look, I think I'm gonna spend the night in the store. There's this major storm coming and I gotta make sure, you know, I get in here Sunday.' Well, that major storm turned out to be the blizzard of the century. We got 30 inches of snow, the all-time record, and one night at the store turned into four nights at the store. But I worked 18 to 20 hours a day, uninterrupted, and we were able to meet the deadline. You know, it worked.

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