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EMERY THOMPSON - AN INVESTMENT IN YOUR FUTURE
By, Steve Thompson, President
Emery Thompson Machine
Although I hated to leave my beloved NY Yankees, the summer of 2005 found Paula, me and Sadie the Golden crossing the George Washington Bridge along with nine tractor trailers to open a brand new factory in a remote section of the Florida Gulf Coast. Of course I was tired of the freezing rain and snowy winters, there was also the 45 minute commute to go 7 miles on the Cross Bronx Expressway. But it was the unions and the taxes that drove our 100 year old family business out of the Bronx. On the surface what could be better than NY? Walking distance from the World Headquarters of baseball – Yankee Stadium; a murder a week neighborhood; hourly trips down to the factory floor to ask the union welders to turn off Oprah on their TV; the $300.00 littering fines because someone else’s McDonalds Big Mac wrapper was on my sidewalk or the $100,000.00 annual heating bill to bring 40,000 square feet of factory space to a tolerable temperature.
We had a union workforce of 24 men. On any given day six employees would call in sick, drunk, in jail or on their way to jail. Breaking up the almost daily employee disputes involved the fine art of disarming a man with a shiv (homemade knife) while trying to tell a man who curses in Farsi that “your mother wears army boots” is not a derogatory thing to say in Portuguese. When this is your day to day life you don’t know that there is any other way to live. You always hear some movie star say “we grew up poor in Brooklyn but we didn’t know we were poor.” I guess that was me. After all, doesn’t everyone quell employee uprisings by calling 911?
Then one day there was a rumor on the street that a new Yankee Stadium was in the works. Over on Manhattan’s west side there was a deal being formulated to build a new football stadium for the NY Jets. The concept made no sense whatsoever. The overcrowded West Side Highway would literally have become a parking lot for the stadium and none of the residents wanted the unwelcome addition. The suits up in Albany were in a bind. They needed a shiny new project to defer people’s anger at the ever increasing confiscatory tax rates. George Steinbrenner stepped up to the plate and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. “I’ll build you a new Yankee Stadium for free…you just give me gazillion dollars to renovate the surrounding area.” The Albany legislators took the deal and Emery Thompson would begin its escape from New York. On a gamble I decided that my worthless building might actually have some value. After all, the building had 12 inch thick concrete floors and its own parking lot. Add a spiral ramp and bingo – you’ve got a parking garage for the new stadium. It worked! We sold the building and off went Paula, Sadie and me down to our brand new state of the art factory in Brooksville with just enough money left over to buy a cheeseburger.
Fast forward. It’s been ten years now since we made the big move. My Fifth Avenue accountant said “Steve, you cannot move a hundred year old factory – it’s just impossible. The factory workforce is now trimmed down to twelve; Paula is our office manager and Sadie the Golden is head of Security! On any given day we are cranking out four times more machines than we ever did in New York!
Author’s Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and exactly coincide with the management and staff of Emery Thompson Machine Company. After all, I am still a NY Yankee loving New Yorker and you are most likely a Red Sox fan. So feel free to disagree with me.
More than just the location changed at Emery Thompson. A world of innovative improvements came over our family business. Most were planned, some were unexpected.
Trade shows With the exception of being active in NEICRA and NICRA we dropped all trade shows. The unions in cities like Chicago, Boston and New York made a small 8’ x 10’ booth cost well over $15,000.00 for the three or four days of the show. We gave out a lot of free ices and ice cream but rarely had time to talk to an interested customer. To fill this void, I went Hollywood. My Systems Administrator Ken Putt and I decided we could make individual DVD’s and distribute them for free to our potential customers. Today we send out over 300 DVD’s a month with titles like: How to make frozen Desserts; How to make Italian Ice; How to make Artisan Gelato and Your new Emery Thompson. Think about it! For the next three hours I will control your TV while you watch me forget to add water to the Pomegranate Sorbet and Sadie the Golden’s reaction to the over tart concoction. With the thousands of DVD’s that we have sent out world wide, I figure Sadie is the world’s most famous dog after Rin Tin Tin and Lassie! (If you’re under 35 years old you can substitute Benji for Rin Tin Tin.)
Web Site Our Systems Administrator also taught me about the value of the internet. Here’s a big secret! If you go to a web site that opens with a beautiful young woman eating a sumptuous looking Tiramisu gelato and advertising an Italian made batch freezer, your computer sees none of this! Computers don’t see pictures…they read words! When the search engines go looking for batch freezers, gelato machines or Italian ice makers, they stop at Emery Thompson first. Because…we talk about these products instead of showing you someone eating the end results. Our web site, although a bit hokey (because I write it all) is packed with useful information relating to all aspects of the frozen dessert business – not just trying to sell you a machine.
Frozen Dessert Entrepreneurs I periodically conduct 5 hour seminars called MAKE IT FRESH! on how to make all the different frozen desserts. These educational seminars provide critical information to those looking to get started in or expand their frozen desserts business! The seminars can also be watched afterwards in High Definition at our web site. As President and CEO of of the company which has been making the world's best batch freezers for over 100 years, I personally invite you to come to Sunny Florida and participate in our free seminars, free lunch and all the freshly made frozen desserts you can eat. We even invited that "other" President, but he couldn’t make it – he has a golf engagement.
The Competition There is no doubt in my mind that competition is what makes the buying and selling of products great. If the store down the street from you puts fresh picked strawberries on top of their product while you are using canned fruit – you have to reconsider your decision. Up until circa 1980 Emery Thompson had no real competition per se. Then came Gelato. All the ice cream manufacturing companies with American sounding names started to import machines from Italy. They tried to convince us that old fashioned hard ice cream was dead and that the wave of the future was “Artisan Gelato” whatever that means. That’s when I invented our Infinite Overrun Control. Why have a machine that only makes Gelato or one that makes only American style ice cream when you can have a batch freezer that can do it ALL! By all I mean homemade ice cream of any air content, Gelato, sorbet, Italian Ice, frozen lemonade (slush in Rhode Island) frozen yogurt, frozen custard a n d any product that might come along in future years. I personally thought my invention was just a “fad”. But the I.O.C. has become over 90% of our machinery production! Gelato is waning in popularity. Yes, yes, I know there are pockets of successful gelato businesses, but the fact is Gelato is too narrow cast. If three people walk into my Gelateria and one wants Fruta de Bosco, one wants bubblegum Italian ice and the third customer wants Moose Tracks ice cream….I have to turn two of three of them away because I only sell gelato. Does that make sense to you? Me neither. Don’t get me wrong – I love Gelato – but for goodness sake, sell every product your machine is capable of manufacturing.
Pricing Have you noticed that I publish my price list everywhere? What you see is what you’ll pay. Does anyone else do this? Hell no! They want to know what kind of car you drive, how many bedrooms in your house, your total gross income – then they’ll give you the price of their machine. I don’t get it. If I’m gonna buy a Ford, I want to know in advance what the thing is going to cost me. Maybe it’s because they are so much more expensive than Emery Thompson. The reason for their high prices is simple. They’re made in Italy or all the major components are shipped over from Italy and Italy’s currency is the Euro. Right now the Euro is $1.43 to the $1.00. That means for every dollar you spend with me, you’ll spend $1.43 with them. Plus, they sell through an expensive dealer network whereas we sell direct to you our customer and save you an extra layer of mark up.
With our new CB-200 counter top batch freezer priced under $6,000 and CB-350 counter top batch freezer priced under $10,000 and our larger custom built batch freezers, Emery Thompson builds more machines at more affordable prices than anyone else in the world. I guess my escape from New York was a good thing.