I am very grateful for the many
fine, intelligent, and talented individuals I have been fortunate enough to
have come into contact with during my business career. Whatever success
I may have had, I certainly owe it to these individuals.
Early years on the job.
The first person that created a most lasting impression on me was my father,
Louis M. Eilertsen,
who was a heavy equipment sales engineer for Caterpillar Tractor for much of his adult life
covering Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. However, he left Caterpillar and started his own
distribution business that involved industrial engines, auxiliary power
units, electrical wiring harnesses and other related components.
It was during this time I began
to learn what business was supposed to be about. I started to work for
my father at about age 11 and every Saturday and Sunday I was expected to
help him out. It wasn't a question about free choice in this matter so
I learned how to properly clean ash trays, urinals, toilets, floors and
windows along with any other assignments he came up with. I was also
taught how to read engineering specifications in building industrial wiring
harnesses. Also, to bend, form and flair copper tubing assembles, silver
solder and welding. Welding was definitely not my favorite job, but I
did learn to lay a mean bead.
During the time I
worked for m Father, and before I somewhat escaped from his labor camp to
deliver news papers. While working my news route I observed and
learned from my younger Jimmy (James T. Eilertsen) how to build up customer
good will and to collect money. Jim was the bright one of the family and
went on to graduate as an engineer from Annapolis, then added a couple of
Master Degrees and eventually retired from the Navy as a
During high school I was able to get a normal
job at age 16 when I became a shoe salesman for R & S Shoes in Royal Oak,
Michigan. I worked for R&S on Thursday and Friday 5 hours a day and all day Saturday. This
job afforded me my own car that I raced up and down the famous Woodward
Avenue whenever possible. In my senior year I took a job with
Montgomery Ward and ended up running their Annex operation. The money
was better and the only thing not so good was loading the smelly manure fertilizers
into the trunks of cars.
During college I always had at
least two jobs on campus whether it was in the mail room, the printing
office, or the bursars office. My favorite job was being the school's
classical disk-jockey that involved spinning records 25 hours a week for
interested students and faculty in the Music Room located in the Commerce-Finance Building. I built the school's first stereo system
that became a big hit. These jobs along with a fencing scholarship
helped put me through college. I finished undergraduate school with
two majors and four minors
During my senior
year in collage I taught an 8th grade class at a local grade school during
the day, but left teaching and became a salesman of business forms for the
Standard Register company.
Down to business with the
company brains! My major business education really started at Ford
Motor Company working with
"the best and the brightest," and is where I earned my business stripes. It
started in the Chassis Engineering Office (and later in the Product
Development Office) during which time I worked with many individuals who ended up as directors, vice presidents
or Presidents of the company.
course, at that time I didn't know certain of those who would reach such
heights - but it was fun and I certainly learned from them.
After a couple of years
in Engineer, I was
promoted into the world of product planning. Car Product Planning was
known as the "Elite Guard" at Ford and essentially "ran" the company (although the
bean counters would argue this point).
was a small group of about 100 individuals. Don (Pete) Petersen was our
head boss who reported to Lee Iacocca (Pete was later to become President of
Ford), under Pete was Harold K. (Hal) Sperlich and later Jim Capolongo - all
so very quick and smart. Hal was later released by Henry Ford for
trying to sell Ford on a small car strategy. Mr. Ford's reply was "I
don't like small cars, I like big cars." Hal made some sight remark, I remember what it was, but one that Mr. Ford
didn't like and Hal was soon out. Of course, Hal, with his education, brains,
and talents moved over to Chrysler Corporation, introduced the "mini-van"
(that probably saved Chrysler) and later became
President of Chrysler (before Lee Iacocca).
One of my early bosses at Ford was Tom Denomme
who also went to Chrysler and became Executive Vice President and later Vice-Chairman of the Board.
Another Product Planner, Jerome (Jerry) York was also in our department.
A few times Jerry and I would
share driving back and forth to work since we lived in the same
neighborhood and worked really crazy long hours. Jerry later became another "defector" to
Chrysler where he became CFO and then left to join Kirk Kerkorian
(Trancinda) and then IBM. I never thought Jerry would live long
enough to accomplish so much because he was such an maniac behind the wheel,
although it sure was a great driving experience.
I can't forget to mention Alex Trotman,
like many others, he was high up in Product Planning and later became Ford's
President and CEO. While B. E. (Boyd) Horne did not become either a VP or
President, he was my favorite boss. One of my good friends was James L.
(Jim) Funk who came into Product Planning after his E.E. degree for the
University of Chicago and receiving his MBA from
Stanford. I learned a lot for Jim especially the way he could "grind"
numbers - tooling or piece costs, it didn't matter. Jim later became
the number 2 (maybe 3?) person in Ford Truck Operations, but left the
company to start his own business like many of us.
I was impressed by several
others in our operation that provided me with excellent business lessons
they include: Ralph Peters, Alan McNabb, Jim Funk (and our operation's
only really good golfer), John Risk, Mike Messner, John T.
(Jack) Eby, Mike Thomas, Steve Russell (boy genius and Ford's youngest ever
PSR manager), Frank Mei, Webb McDonald, Charlie Nave, Chuck Bazzy, (our real
world "Great White Hunter"), Steve Deneroff (our business and
tennis pro), Jim Watts, Charles (Chuck) Norwood, Tony Bustamante (good at
everything and had twelve kids), Bill "the ripper" our Styling Liaison Manager), Pat Gaughan
(our "G2" guy), Roger Maugh, and George C. Evanoff to name just a few. During my time in
this illustrious group of individuals, I did my best to learn from them and
will always be indebted to them for all the help and support they gave me
during my time at Ford.
Out of the corporate
Mickey Mouse world and into the Entrepreneurial blues. After many years
with the security of the monthly pay check, and with the support of my wife,
I decided to leave Ford and do something for myself. I figured I
helped make millions of dollars for Ford, so perhaps I could do better being
my own boss in my own business. So, I started a business
called Consulting Technologies.
At the same time, I also
started a company named Capital Funding Group that aided companies needing
help with either business or product plans in their quest in seeking venture
capital. However, Capital Funding Group didn't really get off the
ground because my friend Mayer (Mike) Morganroth introduced me to Lawrence
E. (Larry) Fiedler and I pretty much ended up selling several tax
oriented private placement programs through his company named Meridith
Corporation in NYC.
The first couple of years was
rough and I took any kind of consulting to generate some income -
it wasn't as easy as I thought is was going to be. It helped when I
was asked to do some special consulting for Ford Engineering under Tom Spear
(another old Product Planning Manager who ended up in Australia as head of
Engineering). Then another consulting
assignment came from Jim Funk of Ford Truck Operations, and still another from Truck's
Controller's Office under Greminder Beti. However, I knew from my former Ford experience
that my days as a high-priced consultant with Ford would be numbered, so I
took in work from General Motors and ten EDS along with some automotive suppliers.
This lead me to a job
offer to become an interim President of a small software company named
American Business Computer owned by Gordon Dye. Gordon was a great
software programmer, but wanted a business oriented guy to head up his
company. I got the business organized
and we launched his new EDI software into the Ford, GM and Chrysler suppliers
base. This was excellent small business experience and, I might add,
it was very successful.
Upon leaving ABC, I saw
an opportunity to provide a unique software protocol call 3780 RJE
Bisynchronous communications to the automotive suppliers who were all going
to need to link into Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, etc. to transmit
their business oriented documents (e.g., P.O.s, Invoices, Advanced Shipping
Notices). I started CTI Communications and ended up establishing most the
major EDI software houses as my dealers for this old (and now obsolete),
software and the necessary synchronous modems that went with the software.
Today we use the Internet and a different protocol (like HTTP/S) is sold.
possibly to be