Letter From the President: Just Believe!

Together, we have the strength to turn our dreams into goals.

January 21st is a national holiday dedicated to a man who had a dream. His name was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Just over 44 years ago, he stood on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial and shared his “I Have a Dream” speech, which has since become one of the most famous speeches in the world. In the face of opposition and hate, he preached equality and peace and marched America toward a goal beyond racism and ignorance. Dr. King’s dedication to his dream lifted it from imagination and turned it into a blueprint for the future. Dr. King’s speech, you see, is not merely about dreams: It also teaches us the importance of goals.

Everyone has dreams; few people truly have goals. As Dr. King taught us, a dream becomes a goal when we take action. Specifically, a goal is realistic. It is written down. It has both a start and completion date and a specific plan of action. All obstacles in achieving the goal have been identified. If any piece is missing, the goal is still just a dream. America’s Best Companies (ABC) started as a dream; it quickly became a reality and now has very specific goals.
In my dream, I was watching the news one evening when a reporter said, “In a shocking development, another family has opened an old-fashioned drugstore right across the street from a mega-drugstore. What makes this story so stunning is that this business is actually succeeding and that customers have completely abandoned the pharmacy across the street, which is part of a 6,000-store chain.”

The reason why this story is shocking should be obvious. Who in their right mind would try to compete with the mega-drugstore chains opening on every corner today? Who can possibly compete? We can! As America’s Best Companies continues to grow, we will be able to demand better pricing from vendors on your behalf. I can see a day when I can walk into companies like Wrigley’s Gum and ask for better pricing than Walgreen’s or CVS and they will give it to me. Why? Because we will have over 100,000 members and 40,000 of them might have an interest in placing a candy or gum rack on their counters. As of October, there are just over 5,400 Walgreen’s and 6,200 CVS drugstores in America. Our numbers would therefore give us four times the buying power of those two giants combined.
Everyone has dreams; few people truly have goals.

That would only be the beginning. After that, we could negotiate the best deals with pharmaceutical companies, food distributors, and manufacturers of personal care products. Only then would someone be able to open a drugstore and actually compete. Don’t get me wrong; I am not on a mission to open drugstores. Rather, this dream is an example of what I envision happening in every industry in every town in America.

To me, the American Dream has always been related to building your own “place” in your community. That “place” includes your home, friends, family, and, most importantly, your business. Big business is destroying every part of that dream. Today, most big-box store employees cannot afford to purchase a home. A typical big-box store replaces about 25 small businesses and forces spirited entrepreneurs to leave their friends and families behind to pursue their dreams in a big city far away. They also limit job opportunities, salaries, and benefits to people who cannot afford an advanced education. My father lived the American Dream by building a small plumbing company. He paid the mortgage, put food on the table, and even helped me pay for my college education. His business never got bigger than about 10 employees, but he was very proud of the fact that every one of his plumbers owned their own home and made a decent wage. Thank God the mega-marts never started selling and installing toilets. If they had, would the local plumber now be making only $10 per hour with no benefits? Would I be writing this today?

My goal is that my sons, and my sons’ children, and then their children in turn will be able to pursue their own goals, no matter how big or small. My goal is that each and every American will have an equal opportunity to build their “place” within their community without limitations. My goal—my real goal—is to keep the American Dream alive for future generations. We can achieve that goal by supporting local businesses, communities, and causes. I began my journey toward this goal in June of 2006; together, we will reach it by June of 2012.

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Reader Comments

Monday, February 11, 2008 at 9:26 PM
Lesa says:

Thank you for your empowering words of encouragement. The vision given to you is a God given one of destiny and purpose for people who have desired to change their lives but due to current opposition gave up the effort. I was one of those people. Half of my life Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have A Dream" has rung in my heart. My husband and I have been searching for an idea to take our finances from the pit to the mountain. After carefully reviewing your product and services, I plan to return the phone call to the gentleman who contacted me earlier today after reviewing my resume online. James we believe strongly this is the year to act on blind faith. We are curious to see just how far God will bless us to go. Your idea is unique, different,needed and affordable. With my sales background and a little grooming in your industry, we are well on our way on the road to the success we have possibly been searching for.

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