I started my company because I wanted to produce all natural foods that could make a difference in people’s lives. (the dream) Sounds great – but clearly, I had no idea as to some of the crazy adventures I’d encounter along the way. After many years of travel for work, this was a new one for a sales trip…
When traveling in the state of Maine people say “you can’t get there from here,” but I didn’t know that was relevant when traveling from Boston to the land of Sam Walton - Fayetteville, Arkansas, to pitch Sam's Clubs for Zoe Foods at a minority owned business fair.
I was feeling pretty good because my first flight arrived in Charlotte on time. My second flight was 20 minutes from landing in Fayetteville, Arkansas, when suddenly… thunderstorms and insufficient fuel to circle Fayetteville until the storm passed – plane diverted to Little Rock. We were told the plane would refuel and try again. But, there was a delay waiting for the gate and fuel and an hour after we should have landed in Fayetteville, we finally pull up to the gate and fuel truck.However, the airlines had a new plan for its passengers. We were to deplane and take a bus from Little Rock to Fayetteville – only a 30 minute flight, but a 3 hour bus ride! No worries, the bus will pick us up in 45 minutes outside baggage claim. Not the end of the world – I would still get to Fayetteville in time for a good night’s sleep before the big meeting – say 9:30pm.
All off, collect luggage, and wait for the bus. 75 minutes later – no bus. The passengers have begun to bond. Someone finds the bus waiting in a completely wrong part of the airport. Load luggage, get on bus. Bus driver uses toilet (another 5 minute delay – ugh – he had 75 minutes – clearly my New York upbringing and impatience start to surface). Now we find that the driver did not know how to get to Fayetteville! Local passenger to the rescue – he sits in front and guides driver.
20 minutes out of Little Rock and onto Fayetteville when the A/C on bus conchs out. I was relieved, it was way too cold. Then there’s a rumor among the passengers that we were heading in the wrong direction. No one believes the nasty rumor until we notice a sign pointing to Little Rock airport, and then suddenly we’re in the sticks. Turns out – we were heading to the “bus barn”. All off to unload all of the luggage.
General confusion as to which bus to get on next. Then we see one with an engine running, so the crowd of lemmings migrates over. Luggage on, lemmings on. Off we go. Arrive at Fayetteville airport only six hours late! The good news was that the hotel shuttle was in good working order and arrived fairly quickly. Nine weary passengers board. Silence. Arrive at hotel. Nine tired travelers and no rooms at the hotel at which everyone had a confirmed reservation. However, there was a Sleep Inn next door with two rooms. Draw straws. Seven unlucky passengers load back on to the shuttle with their luggage for another five minute drive to a different hotel.
Almost 12 hours of travel from Boston to Arkansas for a 15 minute meeting that will be over in less than 12 hours from now. If the meeting results in new business from Sam’s Club, I would make the trip again! (Believe)
Epilogue: I received a verbal commitment to launch Zoe’s Honey Almond Granola on the East coast – excellent start and worth the trip – now we just need to make it happen! (Achieve) The ironic part to this story is that our Sam's Club buyer dragged the buy out so that it missed the peak season and our inventory sat in a warehouse for two months. Then the buyer was fired and taken away by the FBI. Hmmm… It took another two months for Sam's Club to receive the inventory just in time for the week between Thanksgiving and Christmas - a terrible time to launch a cereal. To add insult to injury, we paid for two product demonstrations in every store and they took place during a snow storm so there weren't even a lot of people in the stores. Perhaps my trip to Fayetteville really wasn't meant to be even though I made it happen...
Mompreneur Musings & The Quest For Balance talks about the challenges I faced while running Zoe Foods for 10 years, and my current search for a new career that will also allow me the time to focus on being a mom to two little girls, a wife, a friend, and a daughter. I am trying to create more balance in my life, knowing now that balance among career, family, and self occurs over one’s lifetime rather than in each day. Please join me on my journey and share your own experiences.
Keep dreaming, keep believing, keep achieving.