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The Inside Story

By Jerry M. Lawson, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

Jerry Lawson headshot

“Everything changes with time. The bluest of blue skies will change with the weather the highest of mountains won’t last forever… you changed in your way and I changed in mine, everything changes with time.” Lyrics by Chuck Lawson.

This month our friend Jim Haney announced his retirement. I have known Haney since his years in distribution with GrayBar, Cain & Bultman, Thoben Elron, Distribucon. He had planned to buy the Georgia operation from the owners in the Carolinas but when they discovered that his was the most profitable in their organization they just pushed him out. He then decided to join his old friend (me) and be the director of the Bluegrass edition; Great Lakes came later. Jim was truly great at his new job. He also knew that we would not desert him when his health was failing. He suffered congestive heart failure but our heart was in the right place. My little company also suffered, we were in the red many times but held true to our word. He had a job as long as he wanted it.

On September 27 Jim resigned. He wrote, ”On Sept. 13th, I was taken to the emergency room and admitted to ICU for 5 days. I was finally moved to a regular room and discharged on the 19th. I am slowly regaining my strength and will have surgery again on the 9th of October. I have loved what I do and enjoy all the people there. Please take care of yourself and God bless you all. Signing out, Jim Haney.”

We will replace brother Jim, if there is anyone out there who would enjoy the best job of your life, you will be welcomed in every factory branch and distributorship in the market. You will gather local news, take digital photos, attend many parties and events, make new friends and be the Insider.

Manufacturers reps have made good Insiders over the years. Men such as Fred Martel, who told us that he would help out but wouldn’t drop any of his lines. He did.

Peter Montana was recruited by Walter Arnett to replace himself and has become one of our top directors. He is Florida’s Insider.

Walter and I have been friends for over 50 years. He and Howard Atkins worked for Jack Peavy at the Chrysler Airtemp branch in Atlanta. We celebrated Walter’s 91st birthday this month.

Louisiana/Mississippi Insider Danny Keating took over the job when his father decided he couldn’t keep the pace. Danny has kept his lines and does a great job at all levels. He is an inspiration.

We have lost too many of our business family. Marion Penchansky passed away on April 4, 2013. She was the Insider for the Mid-Atlantic edition. Her husband, Art Penchansky, passed away in January 2019. Art was the Insider for Keystone Garden.

Howard Atkins shocked us when he passed in 2017. We thought that he would outlive us all. He was a great Insider for Alabama.

Curtis Parrott is the Alabama Insider as well as the Georgia Insider. He took over the Georgia edition after I had a small problem with colon cancer. I survived.

Curtis has worked for me since he was 14 years old. I have known him since he was 11. His dad, Al Parrott was a friend and customer for many years. When Al retired from distribution he stayed home for 11 days before calling me to see if there was any job he could fill at the Insider. He was 69 when he signed on with us. Al was our EVP and General Manager when he passed at 92. He worked until his last day, Al loved being an important part of our newspapers.

Wes and Sue Smith were the directors for the Tennessee, Arkansas and Chicago Insiders. Their passing left a blank in our hearts, Wes was a friend since 1969.

John Fanning was a salesman for Whirlpool when we met and became friends. He got sideways with a corporate big shot and after proving to everyone there that he was right, he resigned and joined us. He was the director of Carolina Insider. When John’s health failed him he retired rather than cause our little company to lose money.

John Fanning is replaced by Pete Gardner, a kinsman of Peter Montana (yes, we try to keep it in the family).

We need new Insiders in several important markets. If you are interested just call me. My cell is 678-491-0627. Our office is 770-786-9658. This year I am celebrating my 50th year of publishing trade newspapers, although I retired 11 years ago at age 66, I still work every day at no pay. I am the only unpaid worker around here. Our regional Insiders earn the most money, we can’t do the best job without them, so come join our family.

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