Apr 2024Wishing a Fond Farewell

Jim Burzynski, Retirement

GRAND ISLAND, New York (April 29, 2024) 
A Conversation with Jim Burzynski on His Retirement, By: C. Schwab

It’s with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Jim Burzynski as he embarks on his well-deserved retirement. Describing our sentiment as merely ‘saddened’ would be an understatement of colossal proportions. Jim has been an integral part of our organization, much like the left ventricle is to the heart—it’s not just a vital component; it’s the powerhouse that ensures the circulation of life. Jim’s contributions have been similarly indispensable, his dedication and strength akin to the left ventricle’s unwavering support in pumping lifeblood throughout the body.

We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Jim to delve into his remarkable journey, reflecting on his history, experiences with us, and his future endeavors. It was a cherished moment that we hold dear. In seeking to honor Jim not just as a colleague, but as a cherished friend, we’re eager to share this heartfelt conversation with you, as a tribute to Jim’s enduring impact on our team and the profound bond we share.

Where did your journey start?

I started in this industry in 1994 for a competitor, as Southwest Regional Sales Manager. I have a mechanical background with General Motors Institute and studied at Hutch Tech High School for mechanical technology. So, I had a basic idea of the mechanics, but I never sold a pressure gauge or did anything in industrial sales before that position.

To tell you I was scared at my very first tradeshow 4 months later, that someone was going to come up to me and ask me about a gauge or thermometer – is an understatement.

Prior to selling gauges though, I sold insurance for Metropolitan. I don’t recommend that. More than sales, insurance is more prospecting for buyers. So, fortunately for me, when I started out in ‘94 selling pressure gauges, I prospected sales. I was a dinosaur, cutting out the yellow pages of the local cities I visited, calling them prospects regarding pressure gauges. Sending them a fax with a quote or mailing a catalog to get started.

In the end, before I left, I had the number 2 sales territory for that company, #1 being the local here in the Northeast, which only made sense. Something I’m proud of.

There was a lot of travel. A lot of air miles, but the best part was meeting people. Customers, who even now, 30 years later, I call my friends before I call them my customer.

Is the feeling mutual?

Very much so. Someone asked me once about 5 years ago, when am I going to retire? I said, “When I won’t be calling on all my friends, because they’ve all retired,” – and that’s happening.

Are there any humorous or interesting stories you could share with us?

In my early years, when we used to pull out the old map and map out the calls we were going to make –  on Tuesday, this customer in this area, and this customer in this area, and we had it all mapped out. I always think of Tulsa, OK, because you could have two different addresses of 52 St. North and 52nd Street Ave North – two totally different areas of the city. I would find a pay phone, because there were no cell phones in those days, and call the customer only to hear, “No-no! We’re located here!” and discovering “here” is 25 minutes away and you only have 5 minutes to get there. That’s happened more than once.

Tradeshows in Florida with the threat of a hurricane coming. Tradeshows in Guadalajara, Mexico with a hurricane coming and getting out just in time. And the endless days of flight delays. Getting into a hotel room at 3:00 o’clock in the morning, trying to get ready for your 8 o’clock call that day. The customer doesn’t want or need to know. It all goes with the territory.

In all honesty, the key that I took with me over my 30 years in industrial sales has been, I was going to treat the customer the way I wanted to be treated. If I couldn’t do that, I’d get out of the business.

I did have a benefit working for two companies and having the mirror image for both companies when I started. The first company in 1994, we were a brand-new company in the U.S. market, so I had to pioneer our products. In 2009, I was hired by Blue Ribbon Corp, and guess what – it was exactly the same. We never manufactured pressure gauges before, so I had to do it all over again. Goes back to what I said about my prospecting skills. Comes in handy. This second time I had a little more of an edge. Initially at Blue Ribbon Corp, customers came over to us because I was the one who was selling, but that only goes so far. You must have the product, the price, and the service in order to be successful.

The best thing with Blue Ribbon Corp, that helped our sales the best – hiring Kim Kish. She was my inside salesperson at the company I started with (now our competitor) for roughly 10 years. Couldn’t have done this without her. She’s as much a part of my success, sometimes I think more.

On a more personal note, some years back my daughter Shayna, she was 9, maybe 10 years old; Shayna made a God’s eye for me out of popsicle sticks. It’s been with me in my backpack ever since. I’ve never traveled without it.

God's Eye Jim's daughter Shayna made for him
God’s Eye Jim’s daughter Shayna made for him

Another instance, I always traveled first class when I worked for a previous company, and on this one flight I saw a serviceman sitting in coach about 10 rows back so I arranged with the flight attendant to switch seats with him. Afterward, he came back to thank me and gave me a medallion saying he gives this to his troops for outstanding service. I’ve carried that medallion with me ever since as well.

Medallion Service Member gave to Jim
Medallion Service Member gave to Jim

Do you feel you’ve made an impact?

I feel I’ve had an impact and made a contribution, but couldn’t have done it all myself. It’s everybody. It’s a team. The team that we’ve got here at Blue Ribbon Corp beats any other team in the market.

One thing I’ve always said too, being able to sell something is one thing, but having a passion to sell that product is a whole different animal. The people who work here have a passion to make Blue Ribbon Corp successful.

Why I say that is because of my previous company. They would hire salespeople from other successful, top-level companies that sold pressure gauges. Big companies. They couldn’t be successful. First of all, because they didn’t have the passion and the belief in the company they worked for. Secondly, when you sell for a leader, a top leader, you don’t just sell, because people don’t just buy. The companies I worked for I had to sell, the gauge, the company, and myself. And you’d better be good at doing it!

What kept you staying with Blue Ribbon Corp?

I enjoy it.

I used to be a recruiter for a business school, Bryant and Stratton. People that would come to me for an interview, one of the things I would ask them was, “What do you like to do?” and they’d tell me. It wasn’t what the job was that they were interviewing for, so I’d ask them, “Why don’t you pursue that?” The answer would be, “I won’t make any money.” So, I’d tell them, “You’re going to be working for the rest of your life. If you’re doing what you like to do, you’re going to be good at it. People are going to know you’re good at it. You’re going to be successful both in what you do and monetarily.”

Also, I enjoy prospecting and I enjoyed prospecting with this company, Blue Ribbon. There’s a satisfaction in watching something grow. Yeah, I really like what I’m doing.

Do you have any plans for Retirement?

Scary! (Lol)

To spend time with my family, grandkids. Play a lot of golf. Hopefully relax.

Do you think you’d work part time?

Don’t know. It will be tough to turn the faucet off completely. Everybody’s worried about me. I don’t know. We’ll see.

Would you travel for pleasure?

Maybe some. Not much. It would be nice to do it on my own terms when and how I want.

We did learn at last night’s retirement party for Jim, that he does plan on taking his wife Elaine to France this summer! (Can I go too, Jim?)

Do you have any horrifying stories?

None I would share.

Jim’s impending retirement on April 30, 2024, marks the end of an era filled with dedication, expertise, and invaluable contributions to our organization. With decades of service under his belt, Jim leaves behind a legacy of leadership, mentorship, and unwavering commitment to excellence. His wealth of knowledge and passion for our industry have not only shaped our company but have also inspired countless colleagues along the way. One could never adequately express the heart, the passion, the kindness that Jim exuded to all he encountered.

Jim, your presence will be greatly missed, but your impact will endure for years to come. While we bid farewell to you with mixed emotions, we celebrate your well-deserved retirement and extend our heartfelt gratitude for everything you have done. Wishing you all the joy, relaxation, and adventure that retirement has to offer, Jim! May this new chapter be filled with laughter, love, and unforgettable memories. Cheers to you, and thank you for everything!

Here’s a brief scrapbook of photos depicting your journey with us, Jim. We hope you enjoy it!


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