The name Julian Vincent “Mo” Anthoine isn’t widely known today, but during the 1970s and ‘80s he was one of the best mountain climbers. He managed to combine a calm and cautious climbing style when tackling the world’s most daunting mountain. When asked about his drive for adventure, he quipped that he had to “feed the rat.” That was his way of describing his hunger for challenges and adventure that pushed him to ever more challenging mountains and rock faces. The description stuck. Today extreme participants in extreme sports describe their inner drive as “feeding the rat.”
What does this have to do with bulk vending? I’ve noticed that vendors have fallen into two distinct categories: those who seem nearly crushed by the economic downturn of the past year and those who are feeding the rat. The latter are meeting their challenges like Anthoine: cautiously, calmly and with an unrelenting drive. They’ve redoubled their efforts when it comes to selling into locations, merchandising their products and searching out new equipment.
It might be an overstatement to say they are happy with the current state of affairs, but they are not shrinking from it. The summit might not yet be in sight and progress may be slow, but at least they known they’re heading in the right direction.
Bulk vending has never been a 9-to-5 job. Those who have succeeded, from the smallest operator to the largest supplier, have something of an obsession for the business. It’s not just a job for them. Like Anthoine, they are the ones who are looking for the next challenge, whether it is walking into a potential location with a bulk head under their arm or bringing the latest and greatest product to market. It’s possible to see this attitude in virtually every successful businessperson.
Interestingly, it isn’t difficult to spot this attitude in bulk vending operators. You can see it in operators with 50 locations looking to grow their routes to 200 spots, or in operators with 500 locations anxious to expand to 1,000. Large and small, both are driven to build their businesses and relish the sense of accomplishment.
“Feeding the rat” might seem an unappealing expression. But it does capture the drive to succeed and meet challenges. Anthoine might have taken a secure job in any number of fields and spent his nights comfortably home by the fire looking at picture books of mountains. Yet, he was driven to take on some of the toughest climbs in the world.
To extend the comparison, the adventurer is regarded as a “technical climber.” He plotted his route up a rock face carefully, aware of the risks and climbing where nobody had ever been previously. He understood that every climb was dangerous, but sought to minimize risk by carefully planning. He knew where he was going, knew how to get to where he wanted to be and was unrelenting in pursuit of his goal. Those in business today would do well to follow his example.