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Winsupply Chairman Rick Schwartz shares some memories of the N.O. Nelson Company of Albuquerque.
Lyle was the first company to have its own Xerox copier. They were leased back then and you paid by the page. The copier was against the wall in the office area and was as big as a large freezer chest and took special 220V, 30-amp electrical circuits to operate it. The company used it to produce their own catalogs and O&M's (Operations and Maintenance manuals) for commercial jobs.
Dick asked Lyle to make me a copy of the management manual on his copier so I could study it and become conversant enough to ask questions about it. The management manual was about 150 pages at the time, I would guess.
Dick was staying at my wife’s and my home on Kirtland Air Force Base for a few days while he worked with Lyle each day to learn many of the business processes that Lyle had designed and Dick wanted to convert into procedures. One of those processes that exists still today is the use of Gross Margin manager to get a more accurate gross margin to use in the managing ratios. Many of the managing ratios we use today were also created by the meetings Dick had with Lyle in the late 60's and early 70's. In those days, the managing ratios were hand-computed and written on ledger cards and then copied for distribution.
I first walked into what was then the N.O. Nelson Company of Albuquerque in September of 1970 with Dick Schiewetz to meet Lyle Pearson. Lyle Pearson was the first president of the new Albuquerque company and had moved down to Albuquerque to start the company a few years earlier from Pueblo, where he was the first president of the N.O. Nelson Company of Colorado, the very first Winsupply company.
Dick introduced me to Lyle (while I was still in the U.S. Air Force) and I returned many times after that initial visit to discuss the N.O. Nelson Company with Lyle. We became good friends and he spent a lot of time explaining wholesale distribution to me and the wonderful N.O. Nelson business model. He was the person who asked me to join the company and get involved in the growth of the company.
Dick returned to visit Albuquerque N.O. Nelson Co. several times while I was stationed at Kirtland AFB.
I remember how impressed I was with the very organized appearance of the company. There were Monroe Marchant mechanical compometers on almost every desk (see the photo). These machines were used to extend and total sales orders, as Dapsco at the time had just begun taking these sales order and keying them into an early computer system and posting them to a customer receivables system, producing an aging sheet, and invoice recap and computer-printed customer statements. Each desk also had a five-line telephone.
The company back in the early 1970's had about 14 employees of which I believe five were in sales. They were very much into commercial plumbing quotations and had a gold mine counter business, similar to today!
Lyle was such an organizer and process person that he had developed many ways to manage his people and what they did each day. His office had windows on two sides of it so he could see the counter and the salesmen desks.
The company had a light system similar to what restaurants used in the old days to tell a waiter that they had an order ready. There was a bank of indicator lights that Lyle could see from his office. If someone was in the office their light was ON and if they left there desk they turned off their light so anyone that looked at the light bank could quickly see who was in and who was out.
Most of all I want to tell you how very proud Lyle was of the wonderful location and the building. I distinctly remember walking down Princeton with him and him telling me how much construction was happening around this area and how the town was growing. He was proud that the company was so perfectly situated near the intersections of I-40 and I-25. He was so excited that he had found that location and had a brand new building on the perfect site. His former location in Pueblo was also in a very good spot, so Lyle had a knack for finding good locations for his businesses. At the end of Princeton there were empty lots at the time and you could see the highway. Not so today!
In the early 70's we were almost the only game in town. In those days we almost owned that market.
The company got into commercial plumbing right from the beginning and was one of the first locations in New Mexico to sell and do design work for radiant heating systems. - Rick Schwartz