If you're like me, you may have noticed that over the past several decades the standard that most businesses operate under is this: Forget quality, forget the customer, and make money. I am not against making money. As some of the readers of this website know, I currently find myself without employment, and God willing I will soon be bringing home more of the happy cabbage, the do-re-me, the green stuff. No, it's the rest of the current business standards that I find fault with. Buy almost anything these days and whatever it is will last anywhere from 1 minute to just over one year (while the warranty expired at month 12, and sorry, but your microwave, dishwasher, light fixture, lawnmower, etc died or broke at month 13; too bad).
Back in the day, meaning in this example the 1950's and 1960's, my grandfather--a very good man--started an oil business that earned he and his family millions of dollars. But in so doing he always put people at the top--he gave them the best quality and service he could because he knew that people have dignity. Once, at least, there was a family that had kids, but could not pay their oil bill. Their home was heated with oil. He let them have the oil free of charge until they could afford to pay him again. Today, with most any energy company, the heat would have been turned off, kids or not.
My Dad is another of those very good men, those very rare men. He operated a business (in this case a psychology practice) by putting people first, often enough helping people who couldn't afford help free of charge.
There are still a few small businesses like this. Maybe even one or two big ones. And I know of some. I would like to mention one in particular in this here post: Broker's Gin.
I saw this gin recently, and resolved to buy some when I was next in need of a bottle of the clear fragrant stuff. Why? A) It's made in England; and B) the bottle has a mini-Bowler hat on the cap. Not to mention the image of a well-dressed gentleman on the label. The whole effect says, with an English accent, "Try Broker's Gin! You won't be sorry."
And sorry I was not. Broker's Gin is the best gin I have ever had.
It is better than Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater, Gordon's, Tanquery, etc. Not only that, it costs only 17 bucks, as opposed to 35 bucks for a bottle of Bombay Sapphire of the same size. I was so impressed that I did something I almost never do--I wrote an email to the company to tell them thanks. No ulterior motive, no complaints, just "thanks." Thanks for making a great, world class product at a price that is not an insult, indeed at a price that makes me think they are taking a bit of a hit selling it at that price; indeed I gather from Andy that they know the price could be higher--but for them that's not the point, the point is that they want to make a great gin at a price that is fair and reasonable and accessible. They take real pride in their gin artistry and treat their customers with: Dignity.
You may have gathered that it gets even more impressive. They didn't send me a form letter--nope, instead one of the founders/owners emailed me back. In the course of our emails, I discovered that not only are they themselves well-dressed gentlemen, they are trying, as am I in my own small way, to bring back the Bowler hat. Through Andy Dawson, I was even put in contact with a hat shop where perhaps I can obtain a good Bowler hat (Frank Sinatra shopped here as well--the shop has no website though, you have to go there: Batsakes Hat Shop; Gus Miller, proprietor; 605 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202; Phone 513.721.9345).
Next time you need some gin, try Broker's--you won't be sorry. And no, I'm getting nothing from writing this--no free gin, no money, no profits, only the pleasure of being able to recommend not only a great product, but a great company run by great people.
Andy and Martin Dawson--thanks, lads. Cheers!