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Post Sears and Mustang Memories; from Ric Mauricio
Created by John Eipper on 06/24/14 5:21 AM

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Sears and Mustang Memories; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA, 06/24/14 5:21 am)

JE: Sears veteran Ric Mauricio sends this comment:

I enjoyed Randy Black's as well as John Eipper's walk down Memory Lane (23 June), especially when Randy started quoting those prices. Randy earned the $1.60 minimum wage in 1968. My minimum wage at Sears in 1980 was $3.00. That is a 5.4% inflation rate during those 12 years. However, since we are now at $7.50 minimum wage (around that; it differs with each state), that is only a 2.7% inflation rate for the minimum wage from 1980 to today. So, either wage inflation has slowed down for minimum-wage workers, or they are getting royally screwed.

Fortunately, I was able to work myself into a commission position at Sears. Besides the 2% commission on anything I sold, they gave us a quota which we had to meet. I asked HR what would happen if I met my quota. They told me I would get a 25 cent raise. Hmm, the wheels started turning, what if I doubled my quota? Then you would get a 50 cent raise. Tripled, 75 cent raise. OK, so now in addition to my basic salary of $3/hour, I would get 2% of my sales (so $100 of sales per hour would equate to $2 extra per hour), and every six months I would get a review of my quota and a raise. So for the next two years, every six months, I tripled my quota, and ended up making close to $12 per hour, four times the minimum wage. Then all the commission salespeople got called to HR for a meeting on quotas. Sears revised the rules. They froze our wages right where they were at. Adiós, amigos. You took away my incentive. So now I was ready to become a stockbroker.

I too had a Mustang, and one of my biggest regrets in life was selling it. It was a 1968 California Special with a 289 V8. Groan! I've also amassed a array of Craftsman tools throughout the years; my mechanic uncle had a gas station and gave me his Craftsman tools after he retired, 50 years ago. No Snap-On or MAC Tools then. So, John, are you saying that building such durable products is a bad business model? I believe Dodge had the same dilemma; their cars were built too well. But don't Toyota and Mercedes boast the same reputation?

Yes, Craftsman tools rarely broke. Reminds me of the time when a customer brought in a broken screwdriver and the salesperson started arguing with him that since he utilized it in a way that it wasn't designed to be used, he could not get a new screwdriver. I finally couldn't stand it, stepped into the discussion, looked at the sku on the screwdriver, told the salesperson to get another one, and exchanged the new screwdriver for the broken one. Happy customer. I explained afterwards to the salesperson that the screwdriver cost us 50 cents and that by honoring the guarantee, that customer will probably buy $100 more worth of Craftsman tools. And he will tell his son, who will tell his grandson.

Now there's an idea; selling Sears products through Amazon or better yet, through Alibaba. The Chinese have our Hummer; they love our Buicks, they buy our Apple phones and iPads, they eat our KFC, pizzas (as in Pizza Hut), and hamburgers (McDonalds and Burger King).  Why not Craftsman tools?

JE comments:  Isn't it the other way around--we buy China's Apple phones?

Toyota and M-B have built their reputations on quality, but there's one key difference:  unlike with Craftsman tools, you don't get a free Toyota when your old one breaks.

I hope WAISers have enjoyed our trip down Sears & Roebuck Memory Lane.  This all began with John Heelan's reference to the Sears Tower, and my cheeky response about the name change.  Will WAISers of the future be sharing their Willis nostalgia?  What you talkin' about...?

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