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Sometimes It Pays to Quit

"Raymond Waechter"

During the 1950's Raymond Waechter was working in Montreal as a salesman for a building supply dealer. He was being paid a good salary but he wanted a commission on his sales. His boss refused, so Raymond decided, after a lot of thought and deliberation, to start his own business.

Today, 'Boiseries Raymond' employs 150 people and has annual sales in excess of $26 million.

In addition, 'Boiseries Raymond' has the largest showroom in North America specializing in wood-finishing products. And ... surprise ... all of Raymond's 35 sales people are on commission.

"You know, the salary I made with that company was very good. For that time. I even had a company car. But I was always very ambitious and I wanted to employ myself in a better way. So I said to my boss; 'I will give you back your company car and you will pay me in commission alone. I will take care of my own expenses.' He refused, and that is why I started my own business."

Raymond was only 22 years old!

Now, after 33 years of operating his own business does he have any regrets? "Of course not! By owning my own business I know there is no way I could have made what I made as a salesman. Even if I had been paid commission. "

What would Raymond recommend to people who want to go into business for themselves? What are the pitfalls? When you make your first $100,000, don't go out and have a good time in Las Vegas, or buy yourself that big boat to show off how important and successful you are. Plough the profits back into the company so it can continue to grow. What made us a success. .. if we go back and look at it over the years. .. is that simple formula: all the money we made was kept in the company. So that today, at age 55, I am semi-retired, and I sold part of the company to younger people.

"I even named one of them president of the firm. I guess what I could say is: work hard while you are young so you can enjoy life at retirement.

"Another suggestion I would give to people today is not to entirely sell your company; retain some control."

Raymond and his wife, Pierrette, began their spiral to business success very simply: they bought a piece of land in east Montreal in 1958 and set up a lumberyard. It was a business that Raymond already knew, but in the beginning it was not easy. While Raymond was delivering lumber in his station wagon, Pierrette was taking care of business in the office.

But the big break came when the Waechters decided to specialize. They quit selling just raw lumber and began to focus on wooden doors, stair rail

ings and moldings. It was a bold move and led to what would have been a modest and profitable business to one that has done much better.

With all the trials and tribulations of establishing a business in a very competitive field, does Raymond have any regrets? "My only regret is that we did not establish our branches in Quebec City and West End Montreal earlier."

The commission sales pitch: a lot of people starting out want the comfortable cushion of the guaranteed salary. What is the motive for those who are on commission alone? Isn't it pretty scary? "One thing I have always stressed to my sales people is that he or she is in business for themselves. The profit they make is up to them. There is no limit to how much they can make. I believe in that motive. It worked for me. Everybody in my company is happy with that system.

"Sometimes the owner of a company takes the attitude that if a certain salesman is earning a lot of money, he should reduce his territory or cut his commission or do something to 'make him work harder' to earn his commission. That is not right. I always say if a salesman earns more money I make bigger profits on his ability. So why cut him down? It's crazy!"

Raymond Waechter is a Canadian Achiever who has discovered a formula that works for him. Perhaps in his commissioned staff are other achievers. The formula worked for Raymond.

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