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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lonnie Poole, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0085. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Banks drive businesspeople more than any other factor

In this excerpt, Poole describes the extent to which business owners work not for themselves, but for their banks. "I am … led by my banker," he says. One advantage of his particular business is that he does not have to seek out customers: everyone has garbage.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lonnie Poole, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0085. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: Over the years, what have been your most important sources of what I'll call sort of intellectual stimulation of a business and company sort? What have been your idea inputs? Where have your sources of information come from? LP: Other people. Other people. JM: Folks in the trade association I imagine, friends, colleagues, social contacts. LP: Well, you do know it's a myth that you're in business for yourself? You're your own boss. That's--nothing could be further from the truth. In finance, I'm guided and impacted and lead by my banker. We borrowed, over the years, we've borrowed tremendous amounts of money. For what it's worth, it takes about a dollar, today it takes about a dollar and fifty cents of capital to get a dollar of annual revenue. That hasn't changed dramatically since 1970. At that time, it cost about a dollar. Today it's more, then it was more labor intensive. Today, it's less but not a lot. So you're guided financially and lead by your banking relations. The operational side of it is that competition can often get an upper hand on it. So you're lead by your competition is that you don’t want them to get a better mouse trap or provide a better service or gain any efficiencies over you by having better equipment. So you develop your technology through watching competition and listening to vendors and suppliers because the innovativeness is their stock and trade. They sell you a better truck, a faster truck, a lighter truck, a safer truck, a more durable truck. So you follow that end of it operationally. Marketing is run by a lot of things. We're in both the selling to private companies and to the public sector. So there's a way that you sell to the governmental entities and then there are ways that you sell to companies such as IBM, Glaxo, and whatever. So in marketing, it's primarily through just getting out and talking to people. The good thing about our business is that you don't have to isolate your customers. Everybody's got garbage. That's one of the, kind of the beauties of this thing is everybody is potentially a customer. So anyone I meet is a potential customer. So marketing is kind of where do you get information about it is being active. That drives primarily on external sources. We've long been members of Chamber of Commerce, all organizations. I need to catch a guy that is walking out.