Stories Worth Repeating – Obs

As recalled by Gene Bendix
This happened about 10 years after I started working at Johnson Service Co. Rex Vernon, vice president of advertising and sales promotion, had passed away and Marv Herrick took over. Larry Carlson handled all the trade shows and made the demonstration panels that were used in them all over the USA and Canada.

These trade shows utilized six large panels, about 5 x 3 feet, shipped in big wooden crates along with a frame and base for each one. Also, there was a header about 12” x 12” and 10’ long with large florescent light bulbs with our name on the front. This header had to be placed on the top of the panels.

I went to work on a Monday after a wonderful weekend. Marv was already there (Big Deal). As I got to my desk, I heard “#?&##, Bendix get in here!!” (Bad news!) Larry had his appendix removed and he couldn’t go to New York for the trade show. “Pack your #?&## suitcase and go to New York and handle the tradeshow at the Waldorf Astoria”, Marv ordered. Wow, I thought to myself, the WALDORF ASTORIA!! “Yes, sir!” I enthusiastically exclaimed. Then Marv added, “You’ll be staying across the #?&## street…. Now, go!!!”

When I finally got to the Big Apple and the Waldorf, I found six huge wooden crates holding the exhibit that I had to assemble. Two “carpenters” were hired to do the grunt work. When the exhibit was assembled, there was no header across it. No crate could be found so I went to the loading dock. There it was -with 3 feet of it smashed. The trucking company brought it to the hotel standing upright and tried to make it fit under a bridge. It didn’t make it, but they delivered it as instructed.

Max Rather, Eastern District manager and Vice President, came early to check out the exhibit. When he saw what had happened, he blew up and made Marv sound like he spoke perfect English! Mr. Rather shouted “At least get a sign with our name on it!” “Never mind, I’LL have it made!” In half an hour the “sign maker” was there with a cardboard sign. My first time working a trade show and it was a disaster – through no fault of my own.

When the show was over, I packed up the remainders of the exhibit and had it shipped back. Then I flew back to Milwaukee to face Marv. “Wow!”

Ray Luedke and Herb Koepke Hanging with Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald (center) visits the Johnson Service Co. with shop supervisor Raymond A. Luedke (left) and personnel director Herbert Koepke.
(Image credit: Journal Sentinel files)

Edmund B. Fitzgerald, who led Cutler-Hammer for 15 years and was a key player in bringing major league baseball back to Milwaukee, died on August 28th. He was identified as one of four men who led the long fight to get another baseball franchise for Milwaukee. One of the other four, Bud Selig, was Brewers president. Fitzgerald was by then Brewers vice president. His Milwaukee roots ran deep: One grandfather was pioneer shipbuilder William E. Fitzgerald; another grandfather, Frank R. Bacon, founded Cutler-Hammer. Selig, now commissioner of Major League Baseball, said Fitzgerald “played a crucial role in bringing baseball back to Milwaukee.”

Excerpted from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Friday, August 30, 2013