A Chat with John Economaki, Founder and President, Br
Simultaneously, in 1983 they had the first of the consumer woodworking shows in the country. That was in Chicago, which I didn't go to. But the second one was in Pasadena, and I did go to that one. At that time, we were in business for maybe five months. I sat down there at a table and just took orders. I took about $6,000 worth of orders at that first show, and I just decided at the time, this was a great business and I needed to focus all my energy on it. My wife worked at the time, and I wasn't taking any money out, and we went our first year and made $30,000 worth of sales in 1984. And then we went to $100,000 in 1985, $600,000 in 1986, $1.2 million in 1987, $3.2 million in 1988. We just kept going up and up.
CS: What has been your greatest career challenge, and how did you deal with it?
JE: There have been two, the small business banking issues created by the Savings and Loan debacle of the late 1980s, and the economy post-9/11.
In 1991, I had a $600,000 line of credit at the bank, and they called me in to talk about the line of credit, so I went in. And they said, we'd like you to pay it back tomorrow. I laughed. I just laughed. Because it was right after we had mailed our catalog. I said, "You've got to be kidding me." So they started putting the screws to me, and I had never had any experience like that. As you might imagine, we have a really high-end expensive product, and so we have a lot of high-profile customers, or we did at the time. And I just said that we weren't going to pay it back. And that got me into a situation where I wasn't able to mail a followup catalog.