Closing the Deal

by John Delach

Part Three of “A Foot in the Door”

Recapping last week’s piece, The Art of Making the Deal: Steve Beslity, Bill Boyle, Frank Hayes and I found ourselves at our firm’s annual Managing Directors meeting at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV when Monster Defense Corporation’s (MDC) risk manager, Bucky Bartlett congratulated Frank on successfully completing the insurance program for his firm’s MPS fleet. Typically, for Bucky’s ego, it came with the directive that he wanted to present the Broker of Record at a ceremony in his office in Tysons Corner the next day. He expected all four of us to be there.

After we finished grumbling, Steve remarked: “Hey, he’s now our client. It’s time for us to put our best foot forward.”

“So be it,” I chimed in. “Frank, tell him we will be there, but I also want Martin McCluney to join us. After all, he did one hell of a job getting this done.”  

I am not certain how it fell on me, but I was chosen to make the arrangements. First off, I called Martin who agreed to fly down on a shuttle flight the next morning and meet us at MDC’s office.

Next, I called Jack Sinnott, our president, to give him the good news and explain that the four of us would be AWOL the next day. Jack laughed and wished us well. While I had him on the phone I asked: “Jack, do you have any idea how I can arrange our flights?”

“Simple, call the Greenbrier Travel Service and have them do it.”

Smart Man, No wonder why he’s president! I called their travel service to explain our dilemma: “Four of us have to be in Tysons Corner by 10 AM tomorrow.”

Enid, the hotel’s travel specialist asked several pertinent questions and said she’d get back to me shortly. In less than a half-hour, she returned my call.  “Do you have pen and paper handy?” I did and Enid proceeded to give me the time our car would leave the hotel for the White Sulphur Springs airport and all the other details. We’d be flying to Dulles International on a two-engine, four-seater. Another car would take us to MDC’s HQ, wait for us and return us to Dulles for our return flight. Damn! I was impressed!

I gave her my partner’s names and she promised to have a written itinerary delivered to each our rooms and make sure we would all be alerted to arrange a wake-up call for the next morning.

Cups of coffee in hand, we introduced ourselves to Rob Kropeck, our pilot who explained, “The airplane has two bench seats, one facing forward and the other facing backwards.” He also pleased us by saying, “Guys, you picked a great day to fly.”

We agreed to rotate the seats for the flight out and back. Frank and I occupied the forward-facing seats for the flight to Dulles that allowed us to witness an amusing happening. Looking past Bill and Steve, we noticed that Rob had opened a road map on the un-occupied co-pilot’s seat. He kept checking it and finally, Frank couldn’t resist the temptation any longer- Frank: “ Not to worry, Rob, I know exactly where we are. Just take a left at the next mountain.”

Slightly flustered, Rob explained he loved to check the actual geography as opposed to how it was depicted on maps. Unfortunately, Frank’s ribbing backfired for me. I kept it to myself, but concentrating on that empty co-pilots seat reminded me of what our fate would be if anything happened to pilot Rob!

A limo met us on the tarmac for the short ride to Tysons Corner where we met Martin.

“Good flight in your puddle jumper?” Martin asked. We joked, composed ourselves and made our way to Bucky’s office. Give the man credit for consistency, short and somewhat sweet. “So, who will I go to when things go wrong?”

We were well rehearsed. Frank took the lead. “I’m your account executive. You can always come to me. Steve is the marine manager and Martin’s your man on the ground troubleshooter.”

“And you?” he asked as he pointed to me? “Mr. Bartlett, you have my card. This team will be there for you, but if not, as I said, you have my card.”

That was that. Broker of Record in hand, we said goodbye to Martin, piled into the limo and made our way back to Dulles. Rob surprised us with a Playmate cooler containing eight Bud Lites. “I figured you’d want to celebrate.” Needless to say, Rob received a healthy tip.

The last act:    

I didn’t include my favorite part of this story until now so as not to interrupt the narrative and give me my perfect ending.

Just before  Enid, the Greenbrier travel specialist, finished her call she asked me, “Mr. Delach, how do you wish to pay for the flight and the limos?”

“Of course, what are my choices”?

“Well, sir, you can either use a credit card or you can put it on your room bill.”

My reply was instantaneous: ‘Enid, please put it on my room bill.”

Later, when people asked me why I happily put it on my room bill, I’d explain: “Because once you put an airplane on your room, nobody will ever bother to check your mini-bar tab!