In 1981, Surplus Record and our family faced the professional and personal crisis of the sudden death of my father and CEO of this business. I was a young adult then working in the finance and banking industry with just a general knowledge of the publishing business. I was given the “option,” by my grandfather the founder of Surplus Record, to either go to work for the “family business” or it would be “sold,” The choice was easy, and I clearly understood the challenges the business faced, as well as the enormous learning curve and training that I had to meet in a short time.
Richard “Dick” Bush, our VP Sales in the Midwest region, had been hired by my grandfather in 1958. My grandfather believed Dick was the ideal mentor, coach and trainer to teach and guide me through the lessons and experiences of the Surplus Record business. From 1982-1983, Dick would travel monthly, leaving his family and home in Akron, to work with me, an eager young man in an industry that was rapidly changing. This selflessness and dedicated behavior was critical to my education and development in the publishing business. At the time, we were experiencing a rather punishing recession, as double-digit interest rates were being employed to reduce the years of high inflation. As our business contracted and suffered along with our advertisers and manufacturers; Dick would sense my concern and be quick to remind me that these “business cycles” were inevitable, but that they always ended, and “things would get better.” Of course, his optimism was rooted in his own experiences, and he was right—things did improve. Not only did our business improve, it grew to the level where Surplus Record became the largest and most read surplus/used machinery and equipment directory in the world.
Dick’s contribution didn’t stop at being my teacher and mentor. Dick’s service to his advertisers in the East and Midwest was his special and unique talent. He was respected and loved by his advertisers to a level seldom witnessed these days. His relationship with his advertisers developed from professional trust and guidance to friendship and warmth. Dick was considered by many to be more than a space salesman, he was the consummate gentleman, as noted in these letters from some of his advertisers: “Since I first started… in the early ‘70’s you have been my friend. Your take on the economic climate, especially in the used machinery business, was always an education to me. Your pride and joy was, and I’m sure still is, your family.”
“Always a pleasure knowing you as a friend and doing business with you.”
On October 26th, 5 days short of his 75th birthday, Dick passed away peacefully with his family by his side. His contributions to our industry and his friendships are part of his legacy. Dick is survived by his wife Jan, his daughter Karen, his son Richard, and 5 grandchildren. Dick lived a good life, he made a difference in many of our lives. I will always be grateful for his inspiration, dedication and support. I will miss him, he is part of all of us at Surplus Record and this industry, his legacy will endure.