Company Travel Policies & Johnny Cash

 In these trying times, especially on the business front, where some humor may be needed, I offer this reflection on a conversation I heard while at dinner with the owner of a company, and some customers we were entertaining. I was the CFO of the company.

A little back story to help you understand where the humor originated in this narrative.

The company was a manufacturer in the food service industry, and it distributed its products through a network of wholesale distributors across the country, and through agents outside the country.  To support these distributors the company employed regional sales representatives in various defined territories.

The owner, whose name was Gabe, was an experienced salesman, and had been traveling the world for a long time, and eventually had the opportunity to own and operate his own manufacturing company. He had been traveling for so long that he had one of the lowest TWA travel awards card numbers—it was under 100.  I remember several times when we traveled together, and especially overseas, that when he put the card on the counter, the customer service agents would jump hoops to get him (us) up front or fulfill whatever the request may have been.

So, with having a salesman owning the company, and having a team of salespeople, there was always adequate pressure to call on the distributors, dealers, and prospective end-users.

One policy I remember, and that brings us to the heart of this story, is that while some of the sales representatives wanted to travel by air to make calls, I remember him telling the reps to drive, as they would fly over more opportunities then they would see flying into a particular area only.  In addition, there was a policy of no first- class tickets, barring upgrades.  Flying in coach it was.

Returning to our dinner with customers.  It was an intimate setting at a fine dining restaurant.  There were maybe eight of us that included Gabe, some client principals and their wives, and me.

I had mentioned Gabe had traveled quite extensively in his career, and from those experiences he begins to share a story about a trip to Italy, particularly to Rome, when he had the opportunity to travel with the singer Johnny Cash and some of his family.  He shared some of the things he and Mr. Cash discussed along with some other interesting facts coming from their conversation.  Those at the table were intrigued and extremely interested in the conversation and wanted to hear more.

I was sitting next to Gabe at the table, so when he had finished his story, and at the proper moment, I leaned over to Gabe, and quietly asked with tongue-in-cheek, “why was Johnny Cash traveling in coach?”

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About the Author:

Kevin P. Clouser is a financial and accounting professional, and serves as a consultant, and business development representative for NOW CFO.  In his spare time, Kevin enjoys hosting the CLOUSER ON BUSINESS podcast found on iTunes and other podcast platforms.

© Clouser On Business, July 2020

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