Words Worth Revisiting

By Virginia Lindauer Simmon & Edna Tenney

When you’ve been publishing stories for as long as we have (we’ll celebrate our 30th anniversary next year), you have a chance to hear from a lot of smart people. We thought we’d share some of the wisdom we gleaned as we sifted through some of our early stories featuring enterprising Vermonters.

blodgep1113Joe Woods, G.S. Blodgett Co. Inc., March 1985

“I came up here in 1960. I knew about the company’s opening, knew the principals, and had family connections here. I also liked the geography. I made the decision to work where there were both hardware and engineering as compared to an intangible product. I wanted to be involved with a tangible. For me, there’s much more pride in seeing the final product than in selling something intangible.”

gardnerssupply1113Will Raap, Gardener’s Supply Co., November 1994

“I grew up in one of the richest three or four fruit-growing areas in the world, and it’s now Silicon Valley. And instead of producing fruit, it’s producing Apples! Is that OK? In some ways, absolutely. But what happened was, the fruit-growing region was moved to Chile. Now Chile is producing those grapes and those plums and apricots. Is that OK? The answer is I don’t know. But I think it’s a problem.”

John and Peggy Adams, Adams’ Farm Market, November 1998

“It’s a family place — people relate to us as a family. We have a lot of regular customers and Peggy knows them well enough to talk to them about their families and their vacations.”

“The grand opening [of the shop] was performed at 8:30 a.m. on May 27, 1994 by Gov. Howard Dean. I called him and said, ‘Hey, on your way to work, you’re going to go past this really neat place that’s like your office — a showcase of Vermont products. Could you stop in and open it?’ And he did!”

birnnchocolaes1113Bill and Jeff Birnn, Birnn Chocolates of Vermont, December 1995

Jeff:
“It’s always been called a recession-proof industry. In good times and bad, people buy chocolate. ”

Bill:
“Our philosophy is to bring a Rolls-Royce product to the marketplace at Mercedes prices.”

iriquoisruck1113Dale Dawson (1928-2011), Iroquois Manufacturing Co. (Iroquois Truck Co.), November 1985

“We’re not only one of the few truck body manufacturers in New England, but we also distribute items that finish the line; things such as hoists, tool boxes, and utility bodies. This makes us more flexible in satisfying customer needs. They might want things a certain way, and we can do more than just take something off the shelf and say that’s it with no chance of changing it.”

SHELBFARMS1113Alec Webb, Shelburne Farms, August 1999

“My grandfather actually got an estimate to demo it [the estate’s main house, which became the Inn at Shelburne Farms]. If the estimate hadn’t come in so high, the building would have been reduced to rubble. They weren’t expecting it to be used again. There’s no heat and no air conditioning, which is a real service challenge. We’re kind of selecting out a crew that sees some charm in that.”

radience1113Audrey Engelsberg, Radiance Laboratories Inc., November 1997

“He who owns the intellectual property has potential control of the market. It’s not whether or not you can build the better hardware.”

harringonscover1113Harrington’s of Vermont

We first featured Harrington’s in our November 1984 cover story about Peter Klinkenberg. His son, R.B., was then a sophomore at Colby College. Following graduation, he joined his dad and now runs the company. We interviewed him for our November 2004 issue.

Peter Klinkenburg: “That first day, I showed up for work with a snappy red blazer and tie. John [Gibbons, the president of Harrington’s in 1968 when Peter joined the company] told me kindly I’d better find a coat hanger — I wouldn’t be needing those clothes for a while. Then he sent me down to the railroad siding here in Richmond to help unload a car load of Illinois corncobs with a shovel.”

R.B. Klinkenburg: “Peter came down [to Boston, where R.B. was selling data services for NYNEX] and asked me to join him. He didn’t have a position for me. He said, ‘If you’re interested, you can take a pay cut and come back to Vermont. You haven’t been there in nearly a decade.’

“Getting me involved in the business was a real challenge and risk. From day one, he made it clear that taking over the company was not guaranteed, and I was free to leave if I didn’t like what I was doing.” •