A Chat with John Economaki, Founder and President, Bridge City Tool Works
So I wrote a letter to all of my customers saying, "I don't know what's going on, but this is the truth and I don't know if we're going to make it. If we are, I can't do it by myself. For all of you people who after hearing this are still inclined to order anything from us, in four months, I'll design a tool and make it exclusively for sale to those people who found it a cool thing to support us through this 'barn-raising' as it were."
One of the customers that we had was Andy Rooney. His son was also a woodworker. He was working down at ABC in Los Angeles, and he called me and said he was grateful to get a copy of the letter and they were putting a story together that talked about the impact of the savings and loan debacle on small business in America. He said they knew there were over 200,000 companies that were put out of business because of this unilateral decision by the federal regulators to not let the banks go the same way as the savings and loans. And he wanted to know if we wanted to be the lead-off story on the ABC evening news with Peter Jennings. I said, "Sure, I don't care."
So they came up here with a team, and they were up here for a few days. Anyway, that's old news. We made it through that bump and it actually refocused the company, in terms of let's just really pay attention to our core group of customers, that tent pole group, so to speak. And that's what we've been doing the last 13 years, making really cool stuff and trying to cater to those people who really are enthusiasts and not spending a lot of our money trying to get a lot of new people on who don't care as much. As I mentioned, we are in a contracting market for a lot of reasons. That's how I got started.