Right Place, Right Time. Ever Been There?

It could be in any part of your life, but mine was in my working life.

I worked for a software company in a very, very niche market. Our software served this market very well, but outside of it there were no practical applications. As such, nobody was getting rich, but the work was steady and paid pretty well and was not very difficult. Then things changed. Keeping up with technology, the company took a big leap and came out with a new version of the software that made life 100x better for management and IT, and it was extremely well designed so the end users loved it as well.

We took the market by storm.

We had several healthy competitors, but they were blindsided. Our customers couldn’t upgrade fast enough and neither could our competitors accounts. Those of us who could handle the transition became Kings of the World. That was apparently harder than it looked, though, as probably 65% of our salesforce couldn’t handle the change. They were comfortable talking shop with end users and making $7,500 sales, but dealing with IT pros and executive management and asking for $250,000 to $2M threw them for a loop. We lost some nice people, but it just meant more for the remaining of us.

When we ran into customers at conferences or in their buildings, they would come up to us and say “Oooh, are we upgrading? Finally!” When we got done with our days (nights) at said conferences, the competitor’s salespeople would line up to buy us drinks in the hotel bar (they wanted to get jobs.)

We had four years of basically monopoly market share, and then the remaining competitors started to catch up. It lasted another three years and then it was done. Damn, that was a good time.

My oldest just hit the jackpot, too. She graduated with a degree in a hard science from a top state school, and was offered a job in her field by the City. It involved climbing around in the mountains in winter taking measurements and bringing samples back to the lab for analysis. All for $24K a year. She ended up taking a job with a small medical device company, and through a lucky series of attrition, was the second in command buyer after 12 months. The company was owned by an older couple who had about three customers and no desire to expand. That made my kid nervous, so she applied for other buyer positions and landed one in August with an importer/wholesaler of outdoor equipment (lawnmowers, small tractors, etc.) This company was larger, so she was assigned to one part of the product line - winter equipment - log splitters, space heaters, winter work gear, and… snow removal equipment! Of course, what followed was one of the snowiest winters in history over the most populated area of the country, by far.

Apparently some companies hedge their bets until winter starts in earnest before making the call on inventory levels. She, having no history, ordered plenty of inventory early on. Then the snow came and the longshoremen went on strike and the biggest suppliers to Lowe’s and Home Depot had their pants around their ankles, while my girl’s company had full warehouses. She is the Queen of the World. If she doesn’t screw up really badly, she is bound for bigger things right around the corner. She’s 23.

Ever been there?