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XIV.  Family Disengaged

 

Home ReSources threw a real shindig for their grand opening.  They are known for their hot dog vendors who sell regular hot dogs and bratwurst dogs during the hours of 10 – 2 every day.

 

For the grand opening, however, Jack had several vendor trailers set up around the parking lot serving hot dogs and bratwurst dogs.  They were giving them away free.

 

The Dr Pepper vendor in Lebanon got into the act and had brought in their distribution trailer from Nashville to serve Dr Pepper to everyone.  Coke missed their opportunity by not watching and listening to what was going on in Lebanon that weekend.

 

Jack explaining to Junior, said, “I left several messages for them on the phone and they never returned my calls so be it.  You win some and you lose some and some you don’t get to play because you don’t know what is going on.”

 

Dr Pepper made out like a bandit with good will.  They had local girls dressed up in Dr Pepper uniforms going all over the grounds with rolling trays filled with cups, ice and Dr Pepper.

 

There were drawings for an electric lawn mower working the green clean air perspective.  “Don’t want to miss a beat,” Jack stated.

 

He had 3 bounce houses for the kids with attendants at each site.  The weather cooperated perfectly even though it was the month of January.

 

The sun had come out and the winds had died down.  People were bouncing around the parking lot in shirt sleeves.  It was a most unusual weather day for Lebanon.

 

Jack arranged for the Pace & Pace to use their battery powered people mover carts.  His staff was giving riding tours of the store on the carts with personal PA system explaining the products available in the store.

 

Jack was a master at marketing and he was taking advantage of the weather and the turnout to expose as many as he could to their new facility.  He especially explained the convenience of working with the local store instead of driving all the way to Nashville.

 

Carl had his mill people explaining the different grades of lumber.  There are different lumber grades for a person to use in home remodeling or building.

 

Carl had even arranged a wood carver with a chain saw to demonstrate his talent.  He drew a large crowd watching him carve various animals out of tree trunks.

 

Jack had a video crew out to film the entire event.  They were to take the raw footage and edit it into a presentation for Corporate.  This was the first full blown grand opening endeavor for Home ReSources involving the community.

 

Home ReSources had many grand openings across the country.  Those, however, primarily evolved around free hot dogs and prizes awarded to those in attendance.

 

Getting outside vendors involved; bounce houses for children; and a chain saw wood carver was all new to Corporate.  They were following closely the efforts of Jack and the outcome for future planning.

 

Jack relented at the end of the day, “It was been a great day, but come Monday, we go to work.  It is back to business as usual.”

 

Junior watched with interest himself but thought, “I am not going to compete with this.  As a matter of fact, I am not going to have a grand opening until the spring to let people process this and get it out of their mind

 

“Besides, my parking is not near as large as Jack’s. For me to even try something like this – parking would be a nightmare,” he contemplated.

 

Junior surmised, “Maybe, I can get Wal-Mart to allow me to use part of their parking lot near the street across from the bank.  It would be the part of their parking lot that seldom gets used except by 18-wheelers parking overnight.”

 

He considered, “I could get the Pace battery powered carts to transport people across the street.  And of course, I would have to have a policeman directing traffic.”

 

He thought, “That would cause people to stop, look, and see what is going on.  They would see the grand opening event at the bank when they had to stop while others were crossing the street.”

 

But he thought, “Bounce houses are out.  I am not crazy about that.  Brings out the children, but the parents have to stay with the children while they are playing.  I need for them to be going inside the bank and checking us out.”

 

“I know that one thing was for sure.  Since I cannot compete with Jack on his grand opening, I am going to open the bank without a grand opening for the time being,” he relented.

 

He did consider, “I do need some door prizes to give away.  Maybe free banking for a year or a free membership to the business parlor.”

 

Junior calculated, “Waiting until spring to have my grand opening, the weather will not be in question.  That would give me more time to get everything in order.”

 

“My ideas are all new,” thought Junior.  Grand openings on the order of the Home Resources Grand Opening are run like UPC barcodes down aisles determined by Corporate.  They are pretty much set in concrete based on the history of other grand openings and their consumers over several years.”

 

“If I did my grand opening based on my new services, I would be dealing with consumers whose history is based on my first day in service until I get established in the banking market,” he contemplated.

 

Junior was pleased that he put up the billboards in town announcing the grand opening for Home ReSources.  “Having my bank’s name along with theirs did not hurt my cause at all,” he considered.  “And from the turnout, I don’t think that John fellow is going to complain.”

 

Home ReSources did something that no one expected the following Sunday after their grand opening.  John Deere tractors were hauled in on lowboy trailers.

 

At first it was thought that they were there as part of the clean up and removal of all that had gone on in the grand opening.  But implements that farmers used to plow their crops and take care of the chicken farms were equally being brought in on trailers.

 

Junior called Jack and inquired what he was doing.  “Jack are the tractors there for clean up or are they there for sales and service.

 

Jack replied, “Junior, Corporate wants to try something new.  They are here for sales and service.”

 

He stated, “There is not a Tractor Supply in the area.  Since we carry a lot of the same hardware that Tractor Supply carries, they want people to come to us for their needs.  That requires tractors and the farm implements to do the work.”

 

He explained, “Then when a need arises from the farming market, we are there with their supplies to meet that need.  We will serve two markets.”

 

He said, “There is a Tractor Supply on the east side of Nashville, but Corporate thinks that we can cut off the traffic from east of Lebanon from ever getting there.  Plus serve regions north and south of Lebanon at the same time.”

 

“And,” Jack declared, “Tractor Supply will never have a need to or want to come into Lebanon and compete with us.  We won’t have to worry about a competitor carrying the same products that we inventory.”

 

He recounted, “It would have been great if they had finalized the deal before the Grand Opening.  It would have brought a lot more people in to see the equipment.”

 

“Sounds like a good idea to me, Jack.  Corporate knows their business,” said Junior.

 

Junior changed the subject, “Say, I have decided to wait until the spring to do my grand opening.  Don’t want to take a chance on the weather.  I also had just as soon have people forget what all you did.”

 

“That being the case,” said Jack, “you might consider doing a modified opening with me with the John Deere equipment to generate interest.  Just an announcement that you are opening with us.  You can have a booth set up to help with the financing of the equipment if needed.”

 

He finished, “We can promote your opening but not a Grand Opening with the John Deere Tractors.  It will bring folks back into to town again.  Good for business all around.”

 

 “That sounds great.  By the way; do you need any help with the equipment inventory loans?”  Junior did not want to miss an opportunity of further business with Jack.  They had developed quite a relationship over the last 6 months.

 

Jack replied, “No, not yet anyway.  Corporate is providing the equipment through a consignment with John Deere.  We really don’t have funds tied up in the inventory.”

 

“Who knows, if this equipment does not sell over a period of time,” stated Jack, “John Deere has the option of pulling out.  If we want to continue at that point, we will have to inventory the equipment the same as anything else we have in stock.”

 

“Well,” replied Junior, “I am available for anything you might need.  You know I could go to John Deere and see if I can work a deal with them to cover the equipment that they put on consignment for you.”

 

“Somebody has to cover it.  That way they can concentrate on their sales in other markets and let you ride longer,” shared Junior.  “Do you know the name of the person you work with at John Deere?  That would be a great help.”

 

Jack said, “No problem, I don’t have a special connection with him anyway; Corporate does.  I talked to him once this morning when he came up to see the tractors that came in and how we were demonstrating them.”

 

“By the way; the idea of a modified grand opening for the equipment sounds great now that I mentioned it.  I will look into it,” contemplated Jack laughing.

 

“Any way the John Deere man left right away and I did not get to spend a lot of time with him.  Here it is … his card …; his name is Keith Maxwell.  He is at the John Deere facility in Nashville.  I will text you his direct number.”

 

“If they had told me what was in the works earlier, I would have told you, but Corporate sprung this on me almost overnight.  John Deere showed yesterday moving equipment in,” he explained.

 

“Uh, oh,” Jack ever on the alert, “they just radioed me; we got a senior citizen who just fell on aisle 4.  I will need to get over there.  They have called for an ambulance already.  Catch you later.”

 

Junior got off the phone and made a mental note to himself to give the John Deere number to Carolyn so she can make contact with Keith Maxwell in Nashville.  Won’t hurt to make contact and who knows, might be some business could be in the works later.

 

Junior felt good about his decision to put off his grand opening for the bank until spring.  “I never liked doing things when you don’t know if it was going to be cold, rainy, snowing, icy, or everything all at once.”

 

He calculated, “The weather could really mess up the cost of an event and then have no one able to get to it.  Jack was lucky and I am glad for him.  The modified opening with the tractors sounded good and he would definitely want a booth area.”

 

Junior called for Carolyn to come in.  “Carolyn, all of the computer equipment for the bank is here, installed, and ready to go.  The staff is finishing their training at the tech school in Nashville this week.”

 

He instructed, “I have gone over everything that I want them to know to get us up and going.  We will have those who will begin to demonstrate leadership ability.  I want to make them overseers of the activity within their departments.”

 

“Junior explained, “I have hired some of the employees that worked at Uncle Steve’s bank who had left for whatever reason and they are looking forward to this new banking concept.”

 

He figured, “They will have a certain amount of background expertise to get the systems up and running with our banking needs.  Everything is going to be computerized and the software people are sending 15 techs to work with us for as long as we need them.”

 

Junior exclaimed, “Most are out of Nashville with only a few from out of town.  We will bring them here by charter bus every day.”

 

“Set up Overland Stage Lines to send a coach to pick them up at the Gaylord Resort and carry them back each day.  I have already talked to Overland.  Just call Patty there and give her the schedule,” instructed Junior.

 

He went further, “I have made arrangements With the Gaylord Resort for parking personal cars as long as we keep them away from of their activities.  They are giving us special rates for the software people to provide accommodations for the out of town people.”

 

Explaining, “They want our business right now since their occupancy is running slow due to the weather.  Our business is better than no business.”

 

“Schedule one of our people each morning to catch the bus with them.  Have them log in each of the tech people to make sure everyone is on track to be here.”

 

Designating Carolyn with the scheduling, he said, “Schedule that anyway you want to keep the same person from having to work late every night.  That way no one will be hit every night with return duty.”

 

“At the bank, I want to assign each their tech-reps to 5 of our own people and they can all learn as we go.  It will help with the transition.”

 

Continuing, “Regarding business at the bank, I am making no loans to the general public for a month as we get everyone on board with the computers.  I don’t want to have any foul ups on payments, or payment schedules due to computer error.”

 

Lastly, he explained, “We are not going to plan a grand opening until the spring.  I will get back with you on a date when I feel comfortable we can handle it.”

 

Junior declared, “But – and this is a big but – we are opening the bank come Monday morning.  Can you handle it?”

 

Carolyn replied, “I will do my best.  You pretty much have it covered anyway.”

 

“Don’t worry too much about it,” Junior explained.  “The traffic in the bank will be slow to start and that is exactly how I want it.”

 

Further, “It will give us time to evaluate our staff.  No one is going to have a title just yet.  I want to see who starts taking over, and then I will make a decision about putting people in leadership positions.”

 

Junior informed Carolyn, “The tech school has already given me several names to watch.  These people just need to get their feet on the ground with the computer banking system and then we will move out.  By then I will know who is best to move up.”

 

Carolyn breathed a sigh of relief, “That makes me feel a whole lot better.  You know I have never opened a bank before either.”

 

Junior confidently declared, “Carolyn, if it is any consolation to you; no one has ever opened a bank like this one before.  We will both be learning as we go.”

 

He elaborated, “I’m going over the bank and check my office and the equipment to make sure everything is working.  Joaquin is picking up this double-wide and moving it out this weekend.”

 

Instructing, “I will tell him to give you a couple of clean cut men to help you take everything out here by Friday.  We need to get the offices in the new building set up for Monday.  We will be banking in the new building come Monday morning.”

 

Junior left the double-wide and walked over to the entrance to the new building.  He saw Joaquin talking to some workers over by the drive-thru and went to get a cup of coffee before meeting up with him.

 

Junior thought, “This was indeed going to be a wonderful week getting everything ready to go.  It will cost me a fortune on our start-up expense, but it will be worth it when everything starts buzzing and all you hear is the keyboards transacting money.”

 

“The quite chatter of techs working with customers taking care of their online accounts,” thought Junior, “will be music in my ears.  And seeing the smiling faces coming into the bank for the first time; will be pure excitement.”

 

“I just know our business clients will eventually get used to the parlor with the pool table and game table set up.  They will enjoy themselves,” reasoned Junior.

 

“If they want to read of watch cable news, they will have opportunity to do that as well.  A new age in banking with a New Age Bank,” shouted Junior silently to himself.

 

Junior almost wanted to skip about the new bank lobby but Joaquin walked up and took away his moment.  “We are all set,” started Joaquin.  “We are doing the punch-out list this week to cover any last minute needs that we have not already completed.”

 

He informed Junior, “Keep in mind that I will have a person here for the first week to take care of anything that is out of order.  He will get fix it for you.”

 

He explained, “You have a lot of wiring in this building over and above what we normally do.  Usually we do electricity, alarms, and surveillance.”

 

He reminded, “Someone else comes in to do the computers, Wi-Fi and internet; but I think we have it covered.  I had your software company send in a tech expert and help us with the cabling, and equipment hook ups.  He was very helpful in making everything work.”

 

“Looks good, Joaquin, you have done a great job,” Junior exclaimed, “It’s got that new age smell.  We are going to give it that new age banking technology called the New Age Bank of Lebanon.”

 

Joaquin laughed, “Excuse me; man with a question over there waving his arm.  Have a great day Junior.”

 

Junior went to check out his office in the new building.  “So much to get ready for Monday,” he thought.

 

Junior sat down in his office in the New Age Bank building.  His office furniture had just arrived and they had just pulled the plastic shipping material off his chair.

 

He was really getting excited about his venture into the new age banking concept.  The dream of this new concept would make for 21st century technology banking a reality.

 

But he thought, “Because this banking is online, I will have to take extra precautions to keep account holder transactions private.  If I can’t ensure my depositors their accounts are private, I will not have any depositors very long.”

 

One of his new computer features was that with every transaction in the bank or online, the account holder would receive a notification of the transaction.

 

They could choose to receive either an email, or text message on their iPhone – acknowledging the transaction.  Account numbers and dates of transaction would always be noted as part of the messaging for the account.

 

All the accounts would be like debit card readouts. There would never be over-drafting without prior approval.  And if approved, with either a short term or long term loan programmed for accounting.

 

ATMs had been tied into the software.  Bank customers could get cash money anywhere in Lebanon.

 

Eventually, Junior wanted to reach out further, but for the beginning chose to limit the ATM service to Lebanon activity only.  When he got ready, it would just be the matter of flipping a switch to open up his bank to the world.

 

One feature to ensure that someone could not hack into an account through the ATM transaction was that all ATM transactions would require not only a pin number at the ATM location, but the account holder would receive a message of the transaction request on their computer device.

 

He or she would have to enter a different pin number from an approved device i.e. iPhone, home computer, or laptop.  Entering that pin number would allow the transaction to complete.

 

If someone tried to operate an ATM machine incorrectly, an alarm would go off in the nearest police precinct.  Hackers would not have the capability to hack the extra layer of protection.

 

Clyde had heard about the John Deere tractors coming in to Home ReSources with the farm implements.  “No one told me about Home ReSources trying to cut Tractor Supply out of Lebanon,” shouted Clyde at Murphy.  “When did this happen?”

 

His assistant Murphy Baker said, “Look, from what I heard no one knew.  Even Jack, the manager, at Home ReSources was taken by surprise.  It seems the Corporate office made the decision and the only problem was they could not get it finalized prior to the grand opening.”

 

Murphy continued, “So they started arriving Sunday afternoon.  Everything was in by Monday morning.”

 

“I can’t have that.  The tractors have got to go.  You know the arrangement we have with Tractor Supply on the east side of Nashville.”

 

He explained, “To have a competing company whether Home ReSources or Home Junko will cut off business on the I-40 corridor for Tractor Supply east all the way to Cookeville.  Not to mention the north and south markets around Lebanon.”

 

Clyde was angry, “I get a commission from every tractor they sell east of Nashville and I am not giving that up.  They have got to go I’m telling you!”

 

“What are you going to do?” asked Murphy. “They leave the John Deere equipment outside, but they have 24 hour security up there.  You can’t go up there and set fires like we have done before.”

 

“No,” declared Clyde, “This one is going to take my special magic.  You know those photos you took when Junior gave the stock certificates to Jack.  Well those will become special magic photos.  You will see what happens.  I give it about a month and those tractors will be gone.”

 

Clyde picked up the phone and called Carl at the lumber mill.  “Carl, what do you know about those tractors over at Home ReSources?”

 

“Not anymore than you do, I just drove by one morning and there they were,” said Carl.  “Why?”

 

Clyde exclaimed, “I have a special arrangement with the Tractor Supply folks in Nashville.  You don’t need the details, but Home ReSources having tractors and competing with Tractor Supply is not good.”

 

“It cuts off business for Tractor Supply all the way to Cookeville plus north and south of Lebanon,” exclaimed Clyde,  “We can’t have that.”

 

“We might have to have a meeting with Mr. Jack Meacham and make him undertstand,” uttered Clyde.  “He has got to be set straight on this.”

 

Carl countered, “Clyde, you can count me out on this one.  I am not going to be your ‘patsy’ to get rid of anything Home ReSources does.”

 

“Oh you are not, are you?” retorted Clyde.  “You know the pictures I have of you and that hooker in Nashville at the Holiday Inn two years ago.  Don’t you think your wife might like to have copies appear in the mail for her some morning?”

 

“You are going to help me set up the meeting.  You are going to agree that the tractors need to go for the good of Lebanon.  And you are going to see that Mr. Junior Johnson, Mr. Ray Miller along with Mr. David Leland  go along with all of us,” declared an angry Clyde.

 

“Alright,” replied Carl, “but Clyde, this is the last straw.  No more after this.  My wife will either love me enough to know I made a mistake or she can go to.  After this I’m through with you and the so-called 500Club.”

 

Clyde countered, “Don’t you go getting antsy with me, Carl.  Fires happen quite often around here and the last time I checked lumber and trees burn easily.”

 

“You wouldn’t dare,” declared Carl.  “Even that is beneath you.”

 

“I wouldn’t – just asked David Leland about that one chicken farm out on Highway 231.  The whole thing went up in a blaze in less than an hour.  He had insurance and they replaced his losses, but now he has to pay almost double in premiums for his insurance.”

 

Clyde continued to threaten Carl, “If you think I won’t – try me.  Just make sure you have ample insurance to cover your inventory.”

 

“You got one problem, David did not have.  He could get new chickens over night by hatching eggs.  Your trees don’t grow overnight.  So don’t give me this – I’m through stuff,” bellowed Clyde.

 

Carl relented, “Fine, fine, set it up.  I’ll be there, but you do the talking.  This stuff makes me sick to my stomach.”

 

Clyde replied, “No, that’s not the problem.  The problem is you just don’t have the stomach for it.  That is the problem.  It’s why you are a mill operator and will always be a mill operator.  I’ll call you when we are  getting together.”

 

Carl hung up and for a minute, thought he might have to go to the restroom to throw up, “This stuff is so troubling and it is just not worth it.  Family is family but what is family if you are always being beat over the head with it and by someone who is not even part of your family?”

 

Clyde hung up the phone with Carl and called Ray at the Ford dealership, “Ray, what’s going on?  Always like to check in with my friends.  I assume you and your misses are still getting along great?  An old rat like you has got to have an understanding wife to put up with you.”

 

Clyde continued, “My wife and I really enjoyed your company on the last cruise we took out of New Orleans to the Cayman Islands.  Maybe we can get together in the future on another one.”

 

“The wife is always searching for these buy one – get one free coupons.  You know who gets the free one,” laughed Clyde.  “We do enjoy your company and we are glad to have you with us.”

 

It was Clyde’s way of making Ray feel obligated to him on things he wanted done in Lebanon.  Go on the trips – do Clyde’s bidding!

 

Clyde explained, “I need your help.  We got a business here that is overstepping its bounds.  This Home ReSources is trying to cut Tractor Supply out of the market.”

Clyde reasoned, “Don’t you think that we need to talk to Jack and see if we can get him to rethink this situation?  I have a good relationship with the Tractor Supply on I-40 on the east side of Nashville.”

 

“I had even hoped that at some point we could convince them to come to Lebanon.  They would be good for Lebanon,” stated Clyde.

 

  “With Home ReSources doing what they are doing by cutting the market east off here in Lebanon on I-40, it might make them forget the whole thing.  We can’t have that,” he declared.

 

Ray said, “Clyde, what Home ReSources does is really not in my ball park one way or the other, but I do want what’s best for Lebanon.  The more we grow – the more we all enjoy the increase in business not only in sales taxes but sales as well.”

 

Ray tried to change the subject, “By the way, my wife was just talking to me the other day about the weather here right now and how good it would be to get out for awhile.  The cold is getting to her.”

“She was thinking maybe Mexico or Hawaii would be great,” stated Ray, “but she forgets this is not the best time in sales for us.  Turning that kind of money loose at this time of the year is not always a good thing to do.”

 

Clyde agreed, “A southern cruise sounds good to me.  I agree this would be a great time to get out of Lebanon.  I will have Connie look into it and see what she can come up with.  We might get one of those buy one get one free things again.”

 

Returning to the subject, “Be good if we could handle this Home ReSources thing before we leave,” Clyde said.  “You up for a meeting of the 500Club with Jack to get his feelings?” asked Clyde.

 

“Sure, anything I can do that helps Lebanon, I’m in.  Set it up and let me know when.  I can clear my calendar during the day anytime,” responded Ray.

 

“Good, I will give you a call.  Have a great day,” concluded Clyde.

 

Clyde hung up the phone and called David at the poultry processing plant.  “David, what’s going on?  You got those chicks laying eggs, hatching, growing, and then killing ‘em?”

 

He encountered, “Yours is the only business that grows it products to kill them.  Then you do it all over again and again,” laughed Clyde.

 

“If I sold feed to burn people out or to kill them, I don’t think I would be in business very long.”  Clyde wanted to get that little blurb ‘burn’ in the subject matter.  To say ‘burn’ to David would definitely make a point.

 

David laughed, “Yeah, but you would have trouble sleeping at night.  I don’t have trouble sleeping at night.  Not many chicken relatives come to me complaining.”

 

David shared a anecdote about chickens, “You ever notice when the chicken trucks arrive at the processing plant that there are several chickens that get out of the cages on the way.”

 

“Instead of jumping off the truck to safety, they ride to the plant like the others.  They get caught and are placed on the processing line,” laughed David.

 

Then serious, David replied, “People can be like that – just ride to the slaughter.  But you know Clyde some do slide off the wagon and live.”

 

David asked Clyde, “So, what’s going on with you, Clyde?  You riding or sliding this morning?”

 

Clyde began, “Dave, I’m sliding.  I always come out on top.”

 

Changing the subject, Clyde said, “I call you to talk about Home ReSources.  They are curtailing other commercial industrial accounts from coming into Lebanon.”

 

“This new addition to their business line with the John Deere tractors and the farm implements are going to cut off the sales from Tractor Supply on the I-40 corridor.  I have been working with Tractor Supply to get them to consider Lebanon as another location.”

 

Clyde warned, “With Home ReSources incorporating their line into their inventory, Tractor Supply will drop coming here.  They might consider it sometime in the future, but they would be concerned about competing with Home ReSources.”

 

“As long as Home ReSources is doing their thing, they will not feel there is enough business to accommodate two sources with the same products,” stated Clyde.  “That’s not good for Lebanon.”

 

Clyde began laying on his plan for David, “If we as a community want to consider growing as a thriving market, we need people like Tractor Supply to come in.  They can add a lot to our community.”

 

“As a 500Club member, I want to go to Jack and try to discourage him from carrying these products.  What do you think?” asked Clyde.

 

David thought for a minute.  “I have never heard any of this before.  What does or why does Clyde feel that this could be a problem for anybody?”

 

“So,” responded David, “let me get this straight, you are concerned that Tractor Supply will not come here because Home ReSources is inventorying John Deere tractors?  Tell me how you know that Tractor Supply is even considering coming here in the first place?”

 

“Well,” answered Clyde, “I try to keep my fingers on the markets and my ears to the ground.  We were approaching the level of farming so much so that Tractor Supply had placed us on their radar.”

 

“And you know this?  How?” asked David.

 

“David I don’t reveal all of my sources or how things I know work.  I just know that I know,” Clyde was irritated that David was grilling him.

 

“Well one thing I know is that things burn easily.  And sometimes when you want them to,” fired David back at Clyde.

 

“What?” Clyde exclaimed, “are you accusing me of setting the fire to your chicken farm?  I did not have anything to do with that or that man getting burned to death, David, and you know that.  I have never been involved in any fires period.”

 

Clyde was surprised that David would be confronting him.  This is not the David he had encountered before and he was not going to stand for it.

 

Clyde, retorted, “David, if you want to make it hard for yourself, you go ahead with this line of thinking but if you cannot prove anything, I suggest you drop it.”

 

“Look if you are not interested in the welfare of the Lebanon community fine,” fired back Clyde, “but I just thought you would be willing to meet with us and Jack to discuss this.”

 

Clyde lunged into David verbally, “Carl, Junior, and Ray have agreed to meet and I wanted to include you as a member of the 500Club as well.  You don’t want to come – that is your decision – but it could come back to haunt you someday when you want to outsource your chicken manure to the packaging plant in Nashville.”

 

“Wonder what would happen if a government pharmaceutical specialist were to release a report questioning the validity of using chicken manure as home fertilizer?” asked Clyde.  “How would that go over?”

 

David recognizing that Clyde could hurt him with his fertilizer packaging, relented, “Look if you want to meet with Jack, set it up and I will be there, but understand that this is not my ball game.  I like having a tractor dealer in Lebanon and we have one with Home ReSources.”

 

David stated, “I do not have enough business to keep them here.  But if they stay, I am going to use them when I need parts.”

 

Clyde responded, “Good I’m glad you see my point.  I will call you when we get things ready.”

 

David hung up the phone and was shaking he was so angry, “How this sorry individual thinks he can control my business is beyond my understanding.  He tries to make us think he is out for the community when it is all Clyde … Clyde.”

 

“I will meet with them,” he thought, “just because I might want to support Jack.  I also want to see what Clyde has on his mind.”

 

Clyde had one more call to make.  This one was going to be difficult as he had seen the relationship Junior had developed with Jack.  He recognized that to get Junior to go against Jack, he would have to be very diplomatic.  “Being diplomatic is not always my strong point,” thought Clyde.

 

The phone was ringing in Junior’s office and Carolyn picked it up.  “Hey little miss,” went Clyde in his best diplomatic tone of levity, “your boss in?”

 

“Yes, just a moment Mr. Bonner.  Junior, Mr. Bonner on line 1,” she responded.

 

Junior picked up the phone and clicked on line one.  “Mr. Bonner is it?  You becoming very formal here now,” laughed Junior.  “Well, this is Mr. Johnson.  What can I do for you Mr. Bonner?” asked Junior.

 

“Oh,” began Clyde, “not too much but I do have a concern.  Look when a business comes in inadvertently or planned and it cuts off future possibilities for other businesses to come into Lebanon; this concerns me.”

 

Clyde spelled it out diplomatically as a concerned citizen, “Specifically like Home ReSources bringing in the John Deere tractors and making Home ReSources in essence a combination Tractor Supply and Home ReSources.”

 

Junior interrupted, “Clyde, Jack did not even know the tractors were coming in when they did.  Corporate put this on him before notifying him.  They were waiting on the consignment to be consummated with John Deere before anything could be said one way or the other.”

 

Realizing Clyde might be coming from something of his knowledge about the issue, Junior asked, “What do you know about this upsetting Tractor Supply?  Spill it.”

 

He acknowledged, “I stay pretty much up on what is going on commercially.  I have not heard one word about Tractor Supply coming or even thinking about coming into Lebanon.  Do you know something no one else knows?”

 

“No,” answered Clyde, “I don’t have any specific information, but I have good connections with the folks at Tractor Supply and I know they have been considering Lebanon due to the increase in the farming; the poultry industry; and the lumber mill.  If Home ReSources continues with this endeavor, we can count their interest gone for the foreseeable future.”

 

Clyde added, “Personally, I see it as Home ReSources trying to fill their deep pockets with this add-on.  I don’t see them as necessarily looking out for what is good for Lebanon.”

 

Junior responded, “So, you don’t see anything about this as an enhancement of the business community in Lebanon?  Having local suppliers for the farming community, and … as you say, the poultry and lumber mills is not a plus as you see it?”

 

“Not when it comes to growth for Lebanon.  You grow by dividing and conquering not combining.  Look at Baptist churches for example,” Clyde laughed, “They split and both churches grow beyond the efforts of the original one.”

 

“Business is not far from that same concept,” Clyde dug in to make a point, “Look at you; Lebanon was doing fine with one bank, but you went out and formed another bank with an altogether different approach.”

 

Clyde asked, “Do you not see the same with Home ReSources trying to cover too much ground.  They could be maybe spreading themselves too thin?”

 

Clyde finished, “Lebanon loses under that scenario instead of growing.  I want to see Lebanon grow.”

 

Junior had to admit that Clyde had a point.  Especially with him and his bank.  Lebanon was getting along with one bank and he went out and started another.  Now both were growing.

 

“What do you think we should do?” asked Junior.  “I assume you have an idea.”

 

“Let’s have a meeting with Jack, from – say the 500Club – to express our concerns,” answered Clyde, “and see what kind of response we get from him.  I can set it up and let you know when?”

 

Clyde laid the stinger, “Is that alright with you?  Carl, Ray and David are in agreement that we meet with him.”

 

“Yeah, set it up and I will be there.  But know that I am not sure how I will feel about what you want to do.  But as you wish,” agreed Junior, “Set it up, I will attend, and listen.”

 

Clyde hung up the phone and called Jack using his direct line at the Home ReSources.  “Jack, how’s goes it.  Clyde here,” announced Clyde.

 

“Busy busy busy.  New products are coming in and have to be inventoried.  I have people to do it, but you know there is still a learning curve,” countered Jack.

 

Clyde in his most diplomatic tone stated, “Jack, I want to commend you on all you have done introducing yourself to Lebanon.  It is obvious that Home ReSources is definitely going to be a great asset for Lebanon.”

 

“Look, we need to start a monthly meeting of the 500Club.  Our agenda needs to be established with the welfare and betterment of the community.  Do you think that you can be available Friday at noon at the club?”

 

“Sure, I don’t know of anything right now that would take precedence over the time.  Sure, I’ll be there – what about 12 or 1?” asked Jack.

 

Clyde answered, “That’ll be fine, and I’ll set it up for 1 in the private room we used before.  See you there.”

 

“Agreed,” replied Jack and he hung up the phone.  “I have got to get over to aisle 7 to check on those new ceiling fans,” he thought.

 

“Well,” Clyde was proud of himself.  “It is set up.  I can count on Carl and Ray.  David is going to go along although he might be a little testy about it.”

 

“Junior will be overwhelmed to hear what we are talking about and will probably just sit there.  Jack will be surprised,” thought Clyde.  “He might take the Corporate view or consent to a restudy of the proposition based on community concerns.”

 

“I will call everyone after lunch and give the details of the meeting,” contemplated Clyde.  “One thing they don’t need to know is that I get a commission from the Tractor Supply in Nashville every month from their sales.  I have got to protect that.”

 

Clyde thought, “I bet David would hit the ceiling if he found out that I get a commission on every tractor he uses on the chicken farms and Carl too with the tractors he uses at the mill.”

 

Some things have to be kept secret Clyde thought, “I do not ever want them to find out my under-the-table dividends from their purchases.  They think they are just dealing with Tractor Supply.”

 

Clyde left his office to go to the post office.  He was due a check from the December sales with Tractor Supply.

 

Friday came and Clyde went to the club early before the meeting.  Murphy went with him and they were tossing back a few highballs to get the liquor started in their system.

 

Clyde was laughing and bragging, “Murphy, I have this town by the tail and it does what I want it to do.  You would be surprised to find out how much money I bank every month on commissions I received.”

 

Continuing to brag, “If we were in New Jersey, they would consider me the head of the mafia family.  I get commissions instead of ‘pay to play’ fees as the mafia does.  Folks agree to pay me for my contacts and that is what business is all about – contacts.”

 

Murphy laughed and said, “Boss you got it down pat.  No one else could do and get away with what you do.  These folks in Lebanon are primed pigeons for the plucking.  All you have to do is watch and wait for a slip-up and bam – you got ‘em.”

 

“We better stop this conversation; there could be too many ears around,” admonished Clyde.  “Here comes Carl and Ray.”

 

Greeting, Clyde said, “Ray, Carl, good to see you.  How is your week going?”

 

“Well, I feel great,” exclaimed Ray, “I just moved two of the new Ford pickups.  The 650’s with the diesel package and all the chrome you can find to put on one.”

 

“They easily run over $100 grand each.  It wasn’t anyone in Lebanon who bought them; it was two music stars out of Nashville.  I cannot release their names yet,” he exclaimed.

 

Ray was thrilled, “They came to me because they were told that I could get them for less money than Nashville and get them quicker.  No one inventories these trucks due to the expense.”

 

Carl laughed at Ray, “You have got to have fun dealing with folks out of Nashville.  They come up here with nothing but cash and you get to overwhelm them with your expertise.  Then Nashville has to perform the warranty.  Good racket if you can get it.”

 

“Hey,” alluded Ray, “someone’s got to do it.  Might as well be me.”

 

Junior and Jack walked in.  They exchanged pleasantries and made their way back to the back room.  The waiter came in and took their drink orders.

 

Jack placed his order, “Look I have to go back to work so I will just have water.”  Carl followed suit asking for lemon with his water.

 

Junior was curious to see what the meeting was all about and chose not to have a drink either and ordered water.

 

He thought, “I do not want any of my faculties hindered during this meeting.”  Ray and David decided to follow suit and order water as well.

 

“Well, leave me out here to drink by myself.  That does not bother me, a drink is a drink whether water or alcohol or both combined,” Clyde laughed feeling his earlier drinks.

 

Each looked the menu over and decided on their choice for lunch.  As many men were in the meeting – that is the number of varieties in selections they made.

 

When the waiter returned with their drinks he also brought fried pickles that Clyde had previously ordered.  The waiter took their food orders and left the room.

 

“Y’all have got to try these fried pickles if you have never had one.  They are great,” declared Clyde.

 

Each reached over and got one.  Putting it in their mouth, some exclaimed, “Great,” while other’s mouth contorted with anguish because it was a sour pickl,e but kept eating it anyway.

 

“They do have a unique taste,” said Junior as he reached for another.  “Is this something new on the menu here?”

 

“Yeah some guy from Memphis came in last week and suggested the chef should try them.  He did – liked them and put them on the menu.  Good idea if you ask me,” responded Clyde as he reached for another himself.

 

  Clyde moved immediately to the purpose of the meeting, “Gentlemen of the 500Club, we need to address the community of Lebanon and the business community it serves.  I think all of us want the best for Lebanon and sometimes that requires us to make hard decisions.”

 

“What kind of hard decisions are you talking about,” interrupted Junior.  “What’s bothering you?”

 

Ray chimed in, “I think things are going pretty well.  We have the new Home ReSources, Junior’s new bank is up and running and doing quite well I hear.  What changes are you talking about, Clyde?”

 

“Well,” Clyde hesitated to allow everyone to give him their full attention, “Sometimes what we see as good for Lebanon can be detrimental to its growth farther down the road.”

 

This time, Carl spoke up, “And what do you see down the road that is being affected right now?  Especially that can be detrimental to Lebanon.”

 

Before Clyde could answer, David interjected, “Planning for down the road is not always the best path if it means that current businesses have to allow for changes – changes that may never come.”  David knew where Clyde was going and was not going to make it easy for him.

 

Clyde stood up from his seat and said, “David that has to be the most detrimental statement to the growth of Lebanon I have ever heard.  Planning is not only necessary for success; it is the backbone of success.  Come on – that is why we have the 500Club; to review what is going on and to make suggestions for what could come.”

 

Going on, Clyde went to the ‘why’ for the meeting, “For example, look at Home ReSources, one of our most recent acquisitions.  We are proud of them; we welcome them; and we want the best for them; as we do with any business in Lebanon.  And I am sure they want the best for Lebanon or they would have never come here in the first place.”

 

Clyde dug in, “But, Jack, did you really need to add the John Deere tractor sales along with the supplies that go with a farming tractor supply?”

 

Clyde continued, “I had been in contact with Tractor Supply in Nashville and I know they were looking at us for a possible consideration within the year to open a facility here.  Now with the changes you have added at Home ReSources that is no longer a consideration.  Because you have added the tractor and farming supplies, we are losing Tractor Supply.”

 

“My question,” asked Clyde, “Does your business depend on those sales that would compete with Tractor Supply to be a success or could you be successful even if you did not have that line of sales?  What are your feelings on that, Jack?”

 

The waiter came in with their orders and all hesitated as they salted, added ketchup, and other condiments to their order.  David took a big bite of his sandwich and a swallow of water to get it down.  Others followed suit as they let the conversation sink in.

 

Even Clyde went after his club sandwich.  The food would mellow his intake of alcohol and he might need that before the meeting was over.  “This was not going to be as easy as I had hoped,” he thought.

 

“There is just so much of this I can take before I hit the ceiling,” thought a very much angered Clyde.  “They don’t have the slightest idea of the loss I might have to suffer.”

 

David spoke with his mouth full of his sandwich, “I don’t see that it is our business what Home ReSources does.  It is their business.  If Home ReSources – in the course of their business provides a need for the community – then so be it.”

 

“What do you know David,” fired back Clyde.  “You are out there outside of town and you got your chickens and chicken manure to keep you company.”

 

Everyone laughed at David and the thought of his chickens as he countered,  “Well I tell you one thing that if my chickens provide manure for fertilizer for your front yards and we can provide it; we are going to do it without regard to someone telling us not to.”

 

Clyde countered, “David, you miss the point.  We do not have another company outside of Lebanon wanting to provide chicken litter for manure so you have no competition nor are you keeping anyone else from coming in to sell fertilizer.”

 

“But in the case with Home ReSources,” stated Clyde, “we have the opportunity of Tractor Supply coming to Lebanon with jobs, sales, and growth for our community.”

 

“This whole meeting,” spoke up Jack who was finishing his sandwich as he had been listening, “Seems to be called for my benefit and to discuss Home ReSources and what we are doing in Lebanon.”

 

Explaining, “Let me first say that I did not introduce to Corporate that we enter into the farming supply business.  They did this on their own and it was dropped on me the day after our grand opening.”

 

He continued, “But having said that, I am governed by what Corporate wants to do and they have a 5 year consignment agreement with John Deere to provide tractors and farm implements for Lebanon and the regions surrounding Lebanon.”

 

“That’s the other point, Jack,” interrupted Clyde, “you have cut off the I-40 corridor east of Lebanon all the way to Cookeville.  Folks will stop here as opposed to going on into Nashville.  Tractor Supply was getting some of their business from here in Lebanon and east on the I-40 corridor.  They now see that as gone.”

 

“Well,” concluded Jack, “I feel sorry for them, but as I said this decision was made by Corporate and if it changes, it will come from Corporate.”

 

Finishing, “It is the first time we have combined our interest and if it proves less than successful, I am sure they will want to forego it.  John Deere also has the option for pulling out the equipment anytime they see sales or service failing here.”

 

Clyde, realizing that what he thought might be a clean cut decision to make the change now going up in smoke decided that it might be better served on another day.  Plus Jack just gave him a way to get the tractors out of town.

 

Clyde lamented, “All I ask is for Jack to think about it and we can discuss it again maybe next month.  He will be further down the road with the tractors and the service and will know more by then.”

 

“Y’all don’t worry about your checks; I have already covered the meal.  Now don’t you wish you had had a few more drinks?” laughed Clyde.

 

They laughed with Clyde and Carl said, “If this is going to be a monthly thing, I will cover next month.  Just let me know when.”

 

“And I will pick up a month,” said Ray.  “Maybe I will sell another one of those Ford 650 trucks before then.”

 

“Count me in also,” chimed David.  “Sounds good to me.”

 

Junior said, “Well I will have to do one as well if all of you are going to do it.  Looks like we are getting off to a good start.”

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