A Chat with April’s Profile, A.G. Russell and Goldie Russell, president and CEO, A.G. Russell Knives
That was in 1964. I’m using spiral notebooks to keep track of my sales. I’m working at the kitchen table of my farmhouse, about 20 miles outside town. I had moved to Arkansas to raise my kids, and that’s what I was doing. I had a 200 acre farm with pigs and cows, everything but sheep, and four kids.
In the late ‘70s, I had trouble with depression, and my wife of 24 years decided I was a pretty boring fellow and changed her life and consequently mine and the marriage failed. A few years later, I met Goldie, who had an art background.
Goldie: During that period of time, the business nearly failed. But due to the loyalty of the customer base, he was able to recover. That recovery started in about 1984. By the time I came into the picture, it was pretty much back, in terms of gross sales, to where it had been.
A.G.: Between 1980 and 1984, it declined from my high of $998,000 to less than $250,000. But 1984 was the last down year. We’ve been up every year since then.
Goldie: I started in late 1988.
CS: Goldie, what did you do when you first came on?
Goldie: A.G. and I had just gotten married. I had a small service business and I was working very hard. He talked me into giving that up, with the idea being that with my art background, I would come in and build his catalogs and advertising campaigns. That was the first thing I did. He hadn’t produced a catalog in four years. My first responsibility then was getting the catalog built. That was a real learning experience. I had been a secondary school art teacher. I had no experience in business, no experience in building catalogs. But I did have training in terms of how things should look and how to design layouts. Very quickly I took over the management of the day-to-day activities, as well as the catalog. And we started growing.