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Mr. Ian Ianova, sole owner of Ianova Industries, left Toronto in his personal jet. En route to California, he reminisced about his successes during the twenty-eight years since he had taken over his Father's company.
Ian was going to sign up the largest deal for his company with his friend Tony Neil. Ian took along his sales manager, Peter Bixby. Peter normally signed the deals with the Neil Group with their head buyer, Carlos Ferrara, but this deal was so large that Ian and Tony Neil wanted to do it together, to see each other and talk about the old times. The Neil Group had been Ian's customer since the doors were opened. They supplied all the millwork products to condominium towers and hotel chains that the Neil Group developed and built. Tony Neil, the chief executive officer, had been—and still was—very happy with the product that Ian's company had provided over the years. They supplied kitchen cabinets, crown molding, baseboards, interior doorframes, and custom detailing for hotel lobbies and restaurants. As he had with many other customers, Ian had become very close friends with Tony.
After five hours in the air, Ian's Bombardier jet landed at LAX. Ian and Peter discussed some business as they waited for their golf clubs in the baggage area. Ian told Peter that he would handle the financial negotiations while Peter and Carlos discussed cabinet colors, trim colors, trim and cabinet styles, start dates, and frequency of deliveries. Ian and Tony were happy to let others handle the details.
Ian said, "Peter, with the exchange rate being so favorable, your pockets will be lined with money. Since this is a sixty-million-dollar deal, a 1 percent commission nets you a whopping $600,000, my friend!"
Peter replied, "You're going to give me the full point on this order?"
"Of course. Why wouldn't I? That's the contract we have together. You've done most of the work along with my estimating team. Besides, the company is doing great, and you deserve it!"
"Wow! Thanks, Mr. Ianova."
"Call me Ian—like you have for years. Why are you calling me Mr. Ianova?"
"Because you have no idea what this means to me."
"Whatever this means to you, Peter, I'm sure you will do whatever you need to in order to ensure your family is happy. After all, without a happy family, what else is there?"
Peter shrugged his shoulders and said, "You're right, Ian. Life is meaningless without a happy family."
Ian put his arm around Peter as they entered the limo to meet Tony and Carlos at the golf course. Ian tipped the busboys after they put the golf clubs in the trunk. Ian asked the driver to go directly to the Beverly Hills Country Club.
Peter asked, "Why are we going straight to the golf course instead of Tony's office?"
"The best deals in the world are made on the golf course, my friend. Where else and under what condition could you be with a top executive for five hours—and have them all to yourself?"
"But shouldn't we make the deal in the Neil Group's office first and then go golfing to celebrate?"
"Peter, the big deals are made on the golf course because it's the only place you can have peace of mind. Think clear. Know your objective. Know your budget—and where you need to be. Know how to get there. Know how to make your customer happy—even if you need to say what they need to hear. Most importantly, make the deal! That's called strategy, my boy. Besides, you'll have one of North America's largest land developers—who owns the company and happens to be a personal friend of mine—with you. Learn from him. He is an excellent businessman—as I am."
"Excellent logic," replied Peter. Peter had been a director of sales for more than twenty-five years, but hearing a successful company owner's fatherly advice felt special to Peter.
As they entered the driveway to the exclusive Beverly Hills Country Club, Ian looked over at Peter and said, "Remember to let Mr. Neil win. I can beat him because we are buds and will share wins over time, but it won't look good if you beat him too."
Peter smiled and said, "If I let Mr. Neil win—and you beat him—that means that I am letting you win too."
Ian smiled and got out of the limo. Peter chuckled and got out of the limo as well.
"Good to see you back, Mr. Ianova," said the concierge from the country club.
"Good to be back."
"Your usual is waiting for you before your one o'clock tee off, Mr. Ianova."
"Thanks so much," said Ian.
In the lounge area, Ian's Crown Royal and Coke awaited.
"I'll have the same," said Peter.
While Peter waited for his drink, Ian smiled and tasted his drink. He said, "Don't worry. Dana will be sure you are looked after."
Peter knew he'd better wait while Ian walked off to meet with Tony and Carlos. Tony got up when Ian turned the corner, and they made eye contact. Like college buds, they embraced in a bear hug along with back smacks. The usual jargon lasted until Peter arrived with his drink. Much to Carlos's delight, Tony noticed Peter and shook his hand.
Ian finally noticed Carlos and shook his hand. Tony looked at the fancy trim woodwork on the ceiling and said, "Carlos, that's why I always use Ianova Industries for all my projects. Look around you! It's beautiful. It's perfect—and it was supplied, delivered, and installed by my best friend, Ian Ianova."
"Thanks, Tony. I appreciate that." Ian hugged Tony again. Peter and Carlos looked at each other and sipped their drinks.
"Okay, boys. Are you all ready to swing the clubs?" Tony said.
Ian said, "Tony, tell me the truth. Did you warm up at the driving range before we arrived?"
Tony smiled. "What do you think? Did I?"
Ian said, "You're too smart as a businessman because you come prepared all the time. That's why you are so successful. I think you did go to the driving range first so that you are prepared."
Tony said, "If I beat you this afternoon, I did practice. If you beat me, I didn't practice."
Ian laughed and said, "That's good enough for me."
"Let's go then—and let the best team win," said Ian.
As they passed the pro shop on the way to their waiting golf carts, the club pro made eye contact with Ian and signaled him over.
Ian said, "See you at the tee box. I need to freshen up a bit."
He walked into the pro shop to see what Chris the pro wanted. "Tony had purchased the new 460cc King Cobra driver because he wanted to badly outdrive his buddy Ian." Ian laughed and thanked him for the info.
Ian said, "Why are you even telling me this?"
"Because the competition is good between you two, and you need to even the playing field a bit."
"How? I can't purchase the same driver. Tony will know something is up!"
Chris showed Ian the new Nike golf ball for women that he hadn't shown to Tony. The ball would travel at least fifteen yards farther on a drive than even the best of other golf balls.
"There is no insignia to indicate that it's a women's ball."
"Perfect! My ten-year-old small-head Calloway driver will do fine with this ball, and Tony won't know what hit him."
"Thanks, Chris. I'll take six balls."
After dropping a fifty-dollar tip, Ian walked towards the first tee box. The cart girl was starting her rounds and drove up to see if they need anything to drink or snack on. Ian grabbed a ride with the cart girl.
"The first round is on me," yelled Ian.
Tony yelled, "No, it's not. It's on me."
"Let's flip for it."
Tony yelled, "Tails!"
Rebecca grabbed a coin as she saw everyone struggling to find one. She offered to flip it.
Eager to see Rebecca move in any way at all, Tony, Ian, Peter, and Carlos yelled, "Yes!"
They looked at each other and laughed. Rebecca had no clue why they were laughing. When she laughed back, the boys laughed harder.
Rebecca flipped the coin, she tried to catch the coin in the air, but she missed, and the coin went into her top. There was a slight moment of silence as the men wondered who would grab the coin from her top. They all burst out in laughter, and Rebecca did too. The coin fell out and landed on tails.
Tony paid for the first round of drinks, and he was genuinely happy to do so.
Tony grabbed a tee out of his bag and threw it into the air, when it landed on the ground, it pointed at Carlos. Carlos would tee off first. Tony threw the tee into the air again, and it pointed toward himself. Ian was next, and Peter would tee up last.
Carlos teed up and sent the golf ball about 240 yards down the fairway. It was hugging the right rough, but it was positioned well. Tony was proud of his new driver and took off the club cover; the distinct shine of a new club was present.
Ian said, "Oh, is that a new driver Tony?"
Tony said, "Yep, it sure is buddy. With this puppy, it's not a question of who will drive the ball farther; it's a question of how much farther will my drive be than yours?"
Ian laughed and said, "Those are fighting words."
Tony laughed as well. Tony teed up, and with a swift backswing and perfect downswing, he sent the ball into orbit at least 270 yards down the middle. Tony swirled the club like a pro to indicate how happy he was with the shot. Ian and the others indicated what a great drive it was. Ian teed up his ball and concentrated on his shot; he was motionless for five seconds. He addressed the ball and struck it at least 265 yards down the middle. It landed behind Tony's ball.
Tony said, "Great shot, Ian."
The others concurred. Carlos teed up and sent the ball 240 yards onto the fairway. Ian was extremely pleased with his shot. Peter and Ian got into their cart and started driving toward their golf balls.
Ian said, "My normal drive is about 255 yards, so I actually picked up ten yards by using the new ball recommended by the club pro."
Peter said, "Wow. I might go grab some of those balls after nine holes."
Ian smiled and said, "No, you're not!
Tony and Ian made eye contact as they were driving their carts to their balls. Ian poked fun at Tony because his golf club in Toronto where he is a member has GPS in each golf cart.
Ian said, "Hey, where is the GPS?"
Tony smiled back at Ian and said, "I don't need GPS to know that I drove my ball farther than you did."
Ian and Tony laughed. Carlos and Peter put their second shots onto the putting green within twenty feet of the pin. Ian pulled out a wedge and placed the ball six feet from the cup. Tony pulled out a lob wedge and put the ball about twelve feet from the cup.
Ian smiled from cheek to cheek and said, "Tony, you hit your drive farther than mine, but it's all about the second shot, my friend."
Tony said, "I agree. In fact I'm so scared of my second shot that I hit my first shot as hard as I possibly could."
Everyone laughed. Carlos and Peter missed their putts but put them in next for par. Tony putted and missed but also got a par. Ian dropped his putt for a birdie. The fist pumping started, and everyone laughed.
"Call me Tiger, boys," said Ian.
The next eight holes were played with laughter and roasting. Rebecca came by again before they teed off at the tenth hole and promised not to throw anything down her top again. All four men were shaking their heads in disbelief at Rebecca's beauty and cuteness.
Carlos said, "Peter, I'd bring her home to meet my mom—even though I'm already married."
Peter laughed and said, "I've already dreamt that."
They both laughed. Ian bought rounds of drinks for everyone. Peter and Tony made eye contact again.
Ian said, "Tony, thank you very much for all the business you have given me over the decades."
"Are you kidding me?"
"It's not that often that you own a business you love, and have a customer such as yourself that I really care about. It makes work not seem like work. Not only are you a customer that I truly value, but you have ended up being one of my very best friends."
"You're getting too sentimental for me." Tony put his arm around Ian and guided him into the cart to carry on with the game.
As they were driving to the tenth tee box, Tony said, "You bid a hair over the $65 million mark on my next two projects. My budget was $60 million. I need you to be there. Can you do it?"
Ian paused to think. He turned to Peter and yelled, "Are there any custom colors on Tony's next projects or are they all standard products?"
Peter indicated that they are standard.
Ian looked at Tony and said, "I'll meet you halfway at $62.5 million." He stuck his hand out to shake Tony's hand.
Tony hesitated. That figure would put him over budget—and he would have to come up with the difference himself. "I love you buddy, but not enough to give you $2.5 million. I'll tell you what, let's do $61.5 million, and I'll get that money across the board by negotiating harder with the other trades." Tony stuck his hand out.
Ian wanted the job and knew Tony was over budget; he did not want to push Tony's bad button. He realized that he needed to make money for his company and was very confident that he would. He smiled, shook Tony's hand, and said, "Thanks for the work, Tony. It's a three-year project and will sure help keep all my employees busy."
Tony said, "It's all about the buck; isn't it, Ian? You're very welcome! And you have to promise me that you will come out here quarterly so we can play golf."
Ian said, "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Tony said, "I'll get my attorneys to draw up the contracts. Can your boys start with the preliminary work and design with my boys?"
"When can I get a copy of the contract?"
"In two weeks or less."
"Your word is gold to me, my dear friend."
Ian said, "It's a deal! Ian says to Peter, "I want you to go over the details and design with Carlos ASAP."
Carlos looked at Tony and nodded. Carlos had been with Tony for years. Tony knew what Carlos was thinking and returned the nod as if to say, "yes, proceed".
Ian said, "Tony, you have a wonderful relationship with Carlos."
Tony said, "And you do with Peter. It's important to have key people in your organization that you can trust because they are the people that make you the money."
Ian said, "People are like tools; you use tools to make your work easier. Without tools, you can't work."
Tony put his arm around Ian and said, "Great minds think alike. Let's play golf!"
Peter couldn't wait any longer. When the chance now comes as Tony and Ian drive away in their golf carts to start the next hole, Peter called his wife to tell her about the deal just made. Carlos is driving slowly so Peter can get the excitement out of his system. As soon she said hello, Peter says "We are rich!" Then he proceeds to tell her everything about the deal.
The rest of the game went off without a hitch. Everyone was happy with the outcome. Tony and Ian tied at 89. Ian could have had the game wrapped up, but he purposely missed the winning putt. Peter ended up with a 98 and Carlos had a 99, but neither was concerned about the outcome.
Tony went into the clubhouse while Ian washed his hands. Tony told Chris that the new driver had worked wonders. He dropped fifty bucks as a tip.
Tony went to wash his hands while Ian went into the pro shop. He said the new balls worked wonders and, his accuracy and added distance made Tony take notice. He dropped an additional fifty dollar tip.
Chris said, "Thanks. If I can help you further in any way, please let me know."
Ian thanked him again and walked away.
Chris walked back behind the counter. Who is the businessman now, dudes? Oh yeah!
As Peter and Ian boarded the plane back to Toronto, Ian took a call from Ron William Branson of R. W. Branson. Their friendship had lasted as long as their working relationship—at least twenty years. Ron was CEO of a national hotel chain that used Ian's company to supply and install all the cabinets and millwork products.
"Hello. How are you, Ian?"
"I'm fine. How are you?"
"I could be better."
"What is the problem?"
"Your trim products in the hallways of my new hotel in Palm Springs are not consistent with each other and appear to be different colors. I cannot accept this, Ian. I have a grand opening in two weeks, and the product looks like crap. I need you to fix it."
"I'll tell you what. I am at LAX en route to Toronto. I will tell my pilot to stop in Palm Springs first. Can you meet me on site, Ron? We'll address the problem."
"Absolutely," said Ron.
Ian called up to his pilot and told him to set a new flight plan for Palm Springs.
The pilot said, "Okay, Mr. Inaova, rerouting to Palm Springs. The new flight plan will take five or ten minutes, and then we'll taxi out."
Ian took a call from his company financial controller, Ben Clipfeld.
"What's up, Ben?"
"Have you seen the foreign exchange rate, Ian?"
"I haven't seen it today, but I know it's around 45 percent in our favor."
"Listen to me, Ben—and listen closely. I own the company—not you. I ask the questions, and you answer them. I'm guessing nothing. What are you trying to tell me? Say what you need to say since it's you that phoned me. I've got a lot on my mind."
"Sorry, Ian. The exchange rate was sitting at 30 percent, and the consensus was that this trend will continue."
"You mean our Canadian dollar is getting stronger?"
Excerpted from Death by Numbers by Sam Harrison Copyright © 2012 by Sam Harrison. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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