An Excerpt from the Book:
“There is margin in the sizzle”
Jeff Hewitt grew up in Hallsville, MO – a small town of 690 about 15 miles north of Columbia, Missouri. He received his degree in Finance from the University of Missouri, getting a job at National Cash Register NCR in 1986. By 1996, he rose up through the ranks to run their Global Marketing Division in Dundee, Scotland. In 2002, he partnered with Welch ATM out of Peoria, opening their St. Louis Office. In 2013, Welch’s revenue grew to $140 Million with more than 26,000 ATMs in all 50 states.
The first job I ever had was delivering newspapers when I was six years old. The hardest part was getting up early on Saturday and Sunday morning when everyone else was sleeping in. I found my drive at a young age.
Otherwise, it’s not an exageration to say I spent most of my childhood on a tractor – first riding with my Dad, which I thought was the coolest thing ever – and then later piloting the machine before I could legally drive. My father instilled the value of hard work and set the bar for all of us. He was the mayor of Hallsville and the coach for many of the school teams. Although very successful in his own right, he only completed his freshman year in college before he was pulled back to commitments in Hallsville. He wanted more for his kids – and he expected more as well. He was my first hero.
I attended Mizzou, just like my older brother and sister. Actually, the best education I got was outside of the classroom through the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, where I was elected president my senior year. It built up my confidence when I realized I could run with the big boys from St. Louis and Kansas City. I did not fully appreciate it at the time, but I was developing social and leadership skills that would help me for a career in sales.
My oldest brother had a 4.0 in Engineering; after my first semester, I had a 1.47 in Finance. Dad didn’t quite know what to make of me. Candidly, I struggled to get through college, and I was not entirely sure what I was going to do once I graduated. I did not have the grades to continue in accounting, and truth be told, that was probably a good thing: I could understand the spreadsheets, but keeping my nose in them was just not my thing. It did not help that I was graduating into a lean job market. I thought I might end up back in Hallsville on a tractor.
I caught a break and was able to secure a job interview for a sales position with National Cash Register NCR. I was just excited to drive up to their headquarters on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. My future mother-in-law, Marilyn Camarata, bought my first two suits because I didn’t know that business attire was a little different than what we wore to church on Sundays. I was thrilled when they offered me $16,000/year to sell a new product: Automated Teller Machines to local banks. ATM’s orignated in Europe, where NCR had dominance; the opposite was true in North America, where Diebold had locked up 90% of the market. I was charged with knocking them out of the number one spot.
NCR put me through six months of rigorous sales training at their Sugar Camp faciltiy in Dayton, Ohio. It wasn’t exactly boot camp, but it was definitely old-school. Lesson one was preparation for the call; then how to correctly reach for the phone; and then how to say hello. It was thorough; it was tedious; and it was the best training I could have ever received. We were repeatedly drilled on how to correctly present the company in every possible situation. In the spring of 1987, they turned me loose on Central Illinois.
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