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"Need a piano moved? That's what I do." At the door stood Brian Tilford of Tilford Piano Movers. And in fact, he was at the right house.
He was a short heavy man. Probably about 5'7" and looked like he weighed a stocky, but not obese, 225 pounds. Dressed in a dirty green tee shirt, orange shorts and work boots. He had more than a few days of red stubble beard with a couple of puffs of fu-man-chu sideburns sprouting from either side of his chin. The piéce de resistance was his company name and logo tattooed on the side of his right calf.
After surveying the layout of the house, he was getting his equipment from the truck, when I commented on the tattoo. "I guess you'll not be getting into another line of work anytime soon."
"No," he said with obvious pride, "this is what I do. I move 5-7 pianos a day, every day of my life." He proceeded to tell me that he'd moved 70 pianos the day before - for a sale given by a large piano show room at an upscale university nearby. He was proud of the fact that he never had to advertise, something I could corroborate by the lack of signage on his truck. And that he didn't even have a listing in the Yellow Pages - not to mention an ad. I had heard of him through a referral. In 4 days and 6 messages, I'd only connected with him because I called his house at 6:30 am. In spite of the hour, and his refusal to return my previous calls, he seemed happy to talk with me and schedule my job.
"This was my Dad's company," he told me. "Ever since I was 8, when school got out, my summers were spent going with Daddy. My first job was just to carry this hammer," he said, holding up a rubber mallet - one of only 2 tools he would use to disassemble the baby grand I was having moved.
I could tell by the way he directed his helper, that he knew all the tricks of the trade. The stories that he told of jobs he could do, when others had given up, were obvious sources of satisfaction. "How far do you go?" I asked, "Just local?"
"I'm moving two to Florida next week," he replied (we were talking in Connecticut). "And bringing one back. In between, I'm going to visit my brother and go fishing."
"Nice when your business can provide a little vacation," I remarked, this being one of my favorite themes.
"If you ask my wife, every job I do provides
I wasn't sure what he meant by that, but I'd be willing to bet he's
Everything else about his story seemed to fit. The only part I'd
with was when he said, "That's what I do." Piano moving was more than
he did. It was who he was. I don't know if it was pride, lack of
or overall efficiency, but his was the cheapest price I'd gotten, and
easiest to schedule. I loved watching him work (a vicarious pleasure
get lots of exposure to) and had no anxiety for the fate of my piano.
I wrote him the check, I even felt the satisfaction that comes from
a good price for a job well done. All that passion and pride and
seemed the key to Brian's obvious success. It's also why his will
be a small company. It's who he is. No more, no less. Could it be that
here, with a beer belly, a tattoo, and a red fu-man-chu, was the
small business accomplishment?
Contact Brian Tilford at (203) 300-9143
Contact John Seiffer
through one of his
companies: The Small Business Coach or Decipher Publications LLC, at:
Federal Rd., Brookfield, CT 06804 Phone:
Fax: 203-775-6671 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 1999, 2000 John Seiffer, all rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: Information is provided here for education and entertainment only, not as legal or financial advice or as counseling.