Tim Malone, MCSE Camarillo, CA (818) 257-0513 email@example.com
Link to technical addendum with specific hardware and software supported at Price Books.
Nov 90 to Apr 95 – Price Books and Forms -
I was with Price Books for nearly five years, which is the longest I have been with one company in my career. I probably would still be there today if I hadn’t been fired. Well, the official line is that my position was eliminated and I have a letter on company letterhead to prove it, but the fact is I was fired along with two of my co-workers when we were caught up in a very nasty family squabble.
pb&f is a small family-owned, extremely conservative, debt-free and fiscally cautious company. That's a good thing. They have been in business over 75 years. Dard Larson is the president. His father, Steve grew the business very carefully over the years and has created the well-deserved reputation of being the best and most reliable source of automotive pricing data in the industry. They are meticulous about accuracy and have great working relationships with all the manufacturers and almost all the large dealerships across the country. Ya gotta love cars to work at pb&f!
Their bread and butter product - the printed pocket-sized price books used by automotive sales people forever, has steadily decreased in revenue over the years. While it's been ten years since I left pb&f, I imagine the primary source of income has probably switched over to the electronic delivery of their data, something they were just beginning to get into when I was there. Trust me, if you go to work for pb&f you will be joining a company that is THE expert in pricing and configuration of models, specs, features, options and packages. They know cars! They have come a long way in the delivery of their data, working with Autofusion (http://www.autofusion.com) the past few years.
While I was with the company, I worked for Dard's brother, Gordon. We took the pocketbook concept and began publishing pricebooks for the computer industry. We used to publish IBM, Apple and Compaq pricebooks and had a great time developing and marketing them over the years. We were having so much success and enjoying it so much that we wanted to take the computer books and split off into a separate company. My mistake was in listening to Gordon and supporting him in his quest to take that part of the company out on his own.
It was a sad day when the three of us were fired. What could have been never materialized. We were in the process of marketing the computer pricing and configuration data to Ingram Software - the largest distributor of software in the world. They wanted the expertise of pb&f for their new online internet configuring system for their dealers. This was 1994 and the internet boom was just beginning. That all came to a screeching halt when we were let go. After several years of languishing, the computer price books were dropped from the pb&f product offerings. There was nobody there who had the passion for the products that Gordon and I had. However, it was a good thing for the company.
The strength of pb&f is in automotive data, not in the computer industry. The computer price books were a distraction from their mission and were not profitable enough to make it worth the time, effort and expense to produce. Perhaps with more time it might have worked out but Gordon was anxious to get out on his own. Dard and I had a fundamental disagreement about product marketing. I am a strong believer in direct sales and Dard's methods are much more low key - lots of mailings being their primary method of selling. In the end, Dard and Steve did what was best for the company by letting us go and I understood completely when it happened. I simply got caught in the middle.
I enjoyed working for pb&f. They were a good company to work for. Small companies are much friendlier and have so many advantages that I miss, but I am glad I moved on. I have grown and developed many skills since I left there that I would not have been able to do had I stayed. I assume they have developed expertise in electronic delivery way beyond what we were doing ten years ago. It would be exciting to join them now as they work with Autofusion in developing the internet system to support their Build-A-Car product.
If you want a whole lot more detail and background from someone who worked with pb&f for a lot longer than I did, contact Gordon Larson. He lives in Springville and works for Banta (http://www.banta.com). His email address is GLarson@banta.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. His web page is http://www.gordonlarson.com. Gordon helped pioneer the electronic delivery system to a previous partner of pb&f. I helped write the data checking programs that we used to verify the accuracy of the files before we delivered them. Unfortunately, that venture resulted in a lawsuit in which pb&f prevailed. Having the right business partner is extremely important.