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The history of Ricky McMountain.
also known as - Richard Hirtle
.... My name is Richard Hirtle, HBA, Richard Ivey 1979, University of Western Ontario, the man who created and is Ricky McMountain. As myself and then as Ricky McMountain I set records that remain unbeaten anywhere on this planet well over 30 years later and was in on some of the top corporate decisions being made, quietly behind the scenes.
Early years .... I went to Overland Public school, where i was held back a year due to missing many days while having multiple childhood diseases at once. Then Don Mills Junior and Seniour high schools. Graduated all (1976). I was not overly enthused with school. One lasting impression came from my teacher Mrs. McQuaig who constantly picked on me. When I asked why she said .. because you have the most interesting comments. She also was friends with David Suzuki, who visited over the years. I agreed with the man. I did feel he was not going to win widespread support on climate issues, as people do not listen to facts very well if they interfere with their own desires.
Another teacher Mr. Greiser helped me gain a better flair for positioning in marketing, and the overall need for direction and elevation in thinking, he made me think better, imaginatively.
Highlights ..early years I won a spot in the speaking contest finals for Ontario. Did not win that one. Did represent my school at Expo 67 as one of two from each school. One art piece, a ship I made by shaping metal into a sailing ship, went on tour around the education system for months. Got an offer of $200.00 for it, and refused it. Got the highest marks in grade 13 marketing. Other than that, nothing special.
....University years ...attended Huron Collage (1976) for two years and then two years at The School of Business Administration (Richard Ivey, now), UWO. Graduated (1979) second quarter. At Huron Collage I had two professors who made me think. One was economics and the other was philosophy, both helped refine my thinking. In particular, I began to see and understand how mixed up thinking was becoming.
....Richard Ivey .. HBA I was not an exceptional student, and I was not being greatly impressed with the overall narrow framework of thinking. I habour no ill feelings towards Richard Ivey, on the contrary, it sharpened my thinking, eventualy. One incident stands out. In Professor Gandz lecture we had to answer the question: is there quality to a decsion. I'm Yes!. Well apparently not according to my classmates. Stood pretty much alone on that one, Gandz, stepped in, "Rich is right", to calm us down. One comment upon graduation to my parents was from John Nicholson, "The Teddy Bear with Claws", as his nickname was accurate. He said something like, "I have never, ever seen such abilty in strategy as Rich has" That felt good. On the day our yearbooks came out I was late and did not get one, and still do not have one. There were enough, and upon questioning no-one came forward as having more than one. Anyways, I never returned after graduation much at all. Over the years I kept in touch with only one classmate, Mike McCain, just a few times, by email. Lost track of Steve Finlay, whom I saw for a few years after graduation.
...First adventure.. purchased lot of scientific equipment from CADC (-crown asset disposl corp) for $21700.00, with family money ( about 2.5 tractor trailer loads), from the department of public works testing laboratory liquidation, including two kilos of 5/ninth fine platinum crucibles. My Uncle Bob initially brought this all up. I was intriged and drove up to Ottawa to look at the lot. I took a good look and asked questions about items and to see the platinum crucibles. "They are in the safe", okay, the safe was a locked file cabinet. The guy said, "you are the only one to weigh or look at the crucibles". With that info and knowing two kilos of platinum included plus numerous analytical balances and scales all with Ernst Pfeiffer's (a balance calibration guy) info. So I called Ernst and he said they are all in perfect shape, no-body else called him, and we became working friends for a few years. He tried to get me hang-gliding, no chance, at 6'6" (198cm) NO!
I bid about 700.00 over the value of he platinum for the entire lot and got it. Huge pain moving it to an old factory near Renfrew Ontario for a few months storage. Then to Toronto.
... The fun begins The platinum incident: I called Mathey Mallory Canada the crucible makers and said I'd like to sell. Got a quote and it was jolting, so I called the US Matthey, who quoted far less. So I sent them the crucibles by Brinks Armoured Service to the USA, $300.00, paperwork included and ability to sell it by phone. Russia walked into Afganistan, platinum skyrockets (now about 4 times more valuable), little family squabble over selling platinum delays me selling, outcome, they get platinum (still worth more than the loan) and I get balance of the lot. I should have just sold it, a simple call, and everyone would have done much better. Platinum incident: continues, the platinum security check, I passed the questions. I say, "The Government sells me the platinum, I want to sell it, I check pricing, get two quotes, better price wins and I send it and get it out of the trunk of my car, simple. Now what is wrong with that and what possible trouble could that cause me? Apparently none, other than a relatively close scrutiny, a few visits and calls and gaining a certain following of paperwork readers and other types. So now someone(s) are reading the sales pape'rwork for the lot.
... The fun continues The water stills incident: Too bad I could not just say Google it, (Google was not born yet), would have saved alot of oops-hit. So, some more calls and visits to take a look including some well dressed 'critters'. Water stills are used to distill tap water using steam condensation not alcohol. Conversion is possible was the big issue. Gained some more 'followers'.
... and more fun begins The radio active wand incident:Next up are more calls and visits regarding a very low level radio active wand. So low it does not require shielding. After some discusion I gave it back and then we had discussions about leaving me alone, having passed all these previous 'tests'. That was agreed to and everyone is now happy and no more vists. I was given a few direct phone numbers to very high level security and politicians and told to call if I ever needed help. I am now a 'friend' to these groups.
...all quiet for a bit Selling the load was fairly easy over the next months and the last items were sold to Mark Raufman, a competitor, Labequip, for about $30,000.00 and my promise to stay out of that business, I agreed.
Next up I bought a four colour web press ($20,000.00) and tons of paper for making flyers from Runge Press in Ottawa. Tried a bit of a printing partnership did not work out. Ryn Advertising started giving good marketing advice and using flyers in envelopes, delivered to homes to deliver that marketing. Competitors, Bill Dodd and Rich Richardson (who both became 'acquaintance friends') Rich was the life of any party, Bill outgoing and gregarious too, I liked them both. They did food and national coupons, Valpak did small runs of business envelope sized coupons and I did home improvements and home services. I was first to use flyers in envelopes to tackle the home improvements and services market in a big way, covering the Greater Toronto Area and always giving good solid advice to clients.
Wow...and.... I spent time getting to know each owner, their business, ideas and to help them understand, that good corporate behaviour, with good thinking and good marketing plans can do wonders for their business and what bad ones can do. And we set lots and lots of records with these companies. Notable, AAmco Transmissions (Wayne Krangle on Eglington East) fastest ride up the ENTIRE AAmco franchisee rankings ever seen, from near bottom to top. Record unbeaten. I think he's still near the top today. Next, Century 21 Chartland Real estate, Bob and Sharon Ivany, captured about 2.5% of the entire GTA market (one office, from 4-6 people to over 250 agents), fastest ever, biggest market share one office, total average sale was just beaten by ManHatten. Records still stand. They crossed over to Ricky for a bit then Bob and I parted under bad terms after reaching this level. Went off plan and is no more. There are lots more.
Rise of the "self proclaimed experts". Numerous "self proclaimed experts" kept jumping into the flyer market. Their pitch, "same thing" and "better prices than him". They became a big problem and not because of expertise. What happened over the next few years?: their constant low price message made many business owners including many of my clients think: 'price is the most important consideration'. Some clients began to hedge, demand price matches, slowing payments and many clients slid back to short term thinking, my prices were about 15% higher. (we marketed the envelope, prizes, Lottario tickets, missing kids pictures, etc.). Remember, every one of my clients are growing far, far faster than their competitors, and have been for years, which is why the "self proclaimed experts" invasion began in the first place. Thus began the march to mediocrity.
The end result is, "self proclaimed experts" pulled everyone down to price oriented mediocrity, and then most all went bankrupt, some arouse a second time too. Now, we have all seen a person or company rise to the top then be slaughtered for being too big, powerful or somehow dominant and bad for unclear reasons. This was my first time being 'the target' of "self proclaimed experts", using lower price as their only real weapon. All this came about because of my highly successful use of good thinking and envelopes full of well designed flyers as powerful marketing weapons. My viewpoint was, "How do I help you build your business given your situation?" versus "I have low prices."
I saw the speed that low price messaging can undo and overtake good thinking...all it takes is enough repetition from enough sources, (reach and frequency so to speak) then the herd and tribal mentality take over and mediocracity reigns supreme, dictated by pricing and it does not take very long to start. Remember, this is from the the home improvement and services sectors. They see how you eat, sleep, interact with each other, your bathroom habits, your sexual habits, they see all of it. They are a rough crowd and they have the most intimate relationship with customers of any group.
...My big question: What causes groups of people to ignor facts and experiences when their thinking is repeatedly called into question. In my flyers case, the thought was simply, "you are paying too much" causing customers to demand "full service at discount pricing" which is a business impossibility and every business person knows that. That's quite simply bad. These are rational people and I see this happening all over.
Time to ..Think and create and get some of my existing customers picked and ready for the next step.
Enter .. Ricky McMountain, The Ricky McMountain Buyer's Guide took the city by storm. Ricky had a real person behind him, me. Ricky was going to follow my exact behaviour and he was going to loudly proclaim his promises and he was going to keep them. Ricky promised to do good and would only recommend companies that could pass his tests. The big test, Ricky would choose 50 customers and 25 would be interviewed, answers recorded, questions asked and you either passed or failed. If you passed you had better keep your customers happy as my direct telephone number is in each Buyers Guide, and I took all calls. A bad year was two complaints. All complaints got handled and dealt with by me immediately.
Results ..Almost all calls to my desk were from people just saying thanks and often saying they did not believe me at first and now they do. There was some curious thinking going on, people started to recommend the companies in Ricky's Guide even when they had never used them. People started to have feelings for Ricky, good feelings and quite strong, love like feelings. Simply telling the truth was what Ricky always did and people liked that.
I took a bit of time to get the entire Ricky strategy going. Then I had creative people, Syd Kessler, Jukebox (Greg) Johnson, and others help Ricky use radio and do other marketing. David Craig did my portrait as Ricky McMountain. Radio was to be extensively used to the point we were the second largest buyer of retail radio in the GTA for years.
The "self proclaimed experts", again. This time and for the next years they have very little luck messing with my customers thinking. Mainly due to all customer growth rates being so far, far above average and they were charging more to do the jobs properly without customer complaint.