Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Next Chapter

The time has come to publicly and officially share some exciting news that I’ve been antsy to shout from the rooftops for a while: I’m selling my business!

Here’s a letter my coworkers and I will be sending soon to our clients, guests, and community, which should give some more details:

In addition to this letter, we’ll do a press release and other outreach to let everyone know that this sale is a very good thing. Clark and Codey Noel will take the Uncle Marty’s brand to the next level with some forward-thinking plans in the works, including a second location in downtown Ithaca, licensing and franchising opportunities for shipping stores in other areas that want to come on board with the brand, model, and systems, and an app currently in development that has some great potential to change the game for—and exponentially expand—one of our top profit centers. It’s exciting!

We’ll be having an open house on December 30th at Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office to celebrate, thank our outstanding community for their support, and toast to the bright future of the business. If you’re local and free to stop in for a few minutes that day, we’d love to see you!

In addition to selling Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office, I’ll be stepping down from my formal director roles with the Collegetown Small Business Alliance (CSBA) and the Association of Mail and Business Centers (AMBC). I will, however, retain my editing contract with AMBC to continue to produce its magazine, MBC Today, and will advise and/or assist each organization upon request, as needed.

What’s next for me? I’ve committed to be around the first half of 2024 for an ownership transition period and to assist Clark and Codey Noel in May for the busy student move-out season, and to possibly manage while they go on their honeymoon at the end of June. After that, I hope to have my home in Ithaca sold and find a little place in lower, slower Delaware. Why Delaware? My parents and brother moved there years ago and it feels right for me to now head there too so I can be closer to them and to some of my wonderful cousins who live nearby. It may not be a permanent move, but for now it’s where my heart is telling me I should be.

Going forward, I hope to do more editing, consulting, and writing, continuing to grow my Ask Uncle Marty™ column. A close colleague and I also have a collaborative motivational podcast and coaching enterprise that we’ll be doing some test runs on soon. So, while I’ll officially be retiring from shopkeeper life, I certainly won’t be retiring from the hustle. I’ll just be much more flexible to work remotely from wherever my travels take me, be available to spend more time with family, and keep my options open for whatever lies ahead. As Clark often reminds me, I’m incapable of just sitting around, so even though the thought of taking it easy for a while is very tempting, I’m sure I won’t hibernate for long.

I’ll sure miss the Ithaca community that has been so good to me and faithfully supported my business as it has grown for the past 12-plus years from the quirky little shop around the corner that I ran mostly by myself—where every other guest would come in and say to me, “You’re not old enough to be an uncle!”—to the fully-staffed neighborhood anchor destination that has become Ithaca’s go-to trusted packing and shipping hub. If you’ll indulge my parental pride for a moment, I’ll mention that Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office was one of the first AMBC Certified Gold Stores in the country, has been featured in the FedEx ShipSource® publication four times (pretty sure that’s a record), and, what I’m most proud of, maintains a consistent and authentic five-star review rating on all platforms. As I mentioned in the letter we’ll share with clients and neighbors, our growth and recognition as a model business in our industry and community is a direct result of the truly caring professionals that I am proud to call my coworkers, all of whom plan to support Clark and Codey Noel the same as they have supported me. Just as I’ll miss our community, I’ll miss working alongside this crew every day even more; they mean the world to me and truly have become family.

As is the story of many entrepreneurs who invest everything they have into a project, hoping and trusting they can make something of it in lieu of a pension or other securities of a more traditional career path, I spent a number of years putting nearly every dime I netted (and then some) back into the business, commuting an hour each way six days a week for my first seven years, eating a whole lot of ramen with paychecks often non-existent, and investing time and heart waiting on each guest who came through the doors in order to build formidable relationships in the community and understand local needs in order to adapt services offered accordingly. I depended on my outstanding family to fill in the gaps by volunteering countless hours to help when I needed them. It was years before I started to grow a team and take any time off to speak of, and there certainly were some unforeseen challenges along the way.

The year after I opened, I faced my first major challenge when I was diagnosed with a super weird and very rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. One of the first questions I asked my oncologist wasn’t a traditional question you’d think a 33-year-old with a large tumor in his tonsil and an uncertain prognosis would ask, but rather I just said, “What about my business!? I can’t leave it to go through treatment.” That’s where my headspace was: obsessed with being at the office, making sure guests were taken care of, and non-negotiably finding a plan to stay open even when I’d have to be hospitalized on and off for months to get some of the strongest and most aggressive chemo that is given to cancer patients, as my cancer was one of the fastest growing ones there is (the fastest, according to the rare lymphoma specialist who took my case at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). Thankfully, mercifully, and through abundant grace shown to me, I not only survived, but thrived. And while I was down and out, at my behest my then-retired mom and dad devotedly dug in and kept the business going…and growing.

A few years after my cancer battle, I faced another major challenge when construction crews, without warning, shut down our street and blocked access to my business for all pickup and delivery vehicles (which is obviously not ideal for a shipping store). They did this in May, smack dab during our busiest time of the year when students are moving out, and then kept the street shut down for the better part of two years while developers leveled much of the block across the street and built shiny new buildings. It was quite the hurdle, but somehow we found a way to navigate amidst the dust. Daily, my drivers had to drag carts full of packages (often through the gravel and dirt) to their trucks that had to park on other streets. I would often pick up shipments at clients’ homes after hours because they didn’t have a way to bring them to us because of the roadblock, and I advocated at City Hall for loading zones to eventually be cut into the construction site. I even befriended some construction workers who, out of kindness, would sometimes use their forklifts to get pallets of boxes to our door. Eventually, the shiny new buildings were built and the street was opened back up and, though some of my neighbors didn’t, Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office survived…and continued to thrive.

And who could forget the major challenge faced by every business and individual just a few years ago during the pandemic. When it hit and the world started shutting down, we found ourselves classified as an essential business. The local health department had protocols we had to follow, which we gladly did to keep everyone safe, and so we worked every day in-store while most of the world contrastingly sheltered at home. The local universities shut down overnight and our busy student move-out season, which is traditionally a six-week period in May and June that peaks over Memorial Day weekend, got condensed into a few days in March of 2020 with no warning or ability to stock up on supplies. Students had to catch next flights home and leave their stuff behind, so with no other option I and my coworkers pivoted right away to add the service of going to students’ apartments, video chatting with them while we packed their belongings into boxes, and then put those boxes in storage, shipped them, or donated them. It was months of late nights and doing things we had never done before, while doing the things we had always done in different ways, but we survived. And, once again, thrived. In fact, during the pandemic our business boomed!

Facing, navigating, and overcoming challenges is the core story of business ownership. Like life, business is beautifully unpredictable, with chapters full of plot twists, ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs, and speed bumps large and small. There are no guarantees, but if someone keeps turning the pages, keeps the goal in view, focuses on the abundance of positives amidst a few negatives, and tries really hard to keep the momentum going, they just may end up understanding more and more of the story as time goes on and, eventually, get to a very happy ending.

Reflecting on the past 12-plus years, I believe that different challenges the business faced have not only defined it, but they fortified it; they allowed it to understand the need to be flexible and adaptive, and to blossom where it was planted because of a cacophony of Ithacans who also believed in that little shop around the corner, its mission, and, for some crazy reason, that too-young-to-be-an-uncle fellow who was running it. And, when I finally started building a team, those same Ithacans embraced my beloved “work kids” too. On days I’m at the office now and come out of my back-office lair to visit with guests, instead of commenting that I look too young to be an uncle (those days are long gone), they see my name tag and say, “Wow! There’s really an Uncle Marty!?” and that makes me smile. I’ve hit my intention: created a business that I now run instead of it running me and built a brand and has transformed the always-up-front shopkeeper into the somewhere-in-his-office-unless-he-slept-in-again caricature founder. I know the time is right for the business to be passed on to its next caretakers. Systems are in place, a phenomenal team is in control, and the future is ripe with opportunities.

I can’t begin to express how surreal it all feels to have gotten to this point, how grateful I am, how excited I am, and how optimistic I am. There’s so much I want to share, do, see, experience, and explore, and there are so many things Clark and Codey Noel will do with Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office that I neither have the oomph to do, nor the young, creative mind to fully tackle. But they have oomph, youth, and creativity in abundance. It’s working out and our guts tell us it’s the right next chapter for each of us; we feel a lot of peace with this decision.

So, friends, that’s my big news, which I fully admit could be shared in just a short paragraph instead of this longer-than-your-great-aunt’s-Christmas-letter narrative. But I wanted to share some history, context, and hopefully some encouragement to others pouring their time and effort into a project they believe wholeheartedly in. Because this little shipping store I started in 2011 with the hopes of somehow eking out a living has become something that now will allow me to semi-retire at just 44 years old, which is unbelievable, and lend my time and energy to things that I feel drawn to dig deeper into. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m dang excited for it…and profoundly grateful for each beautifully unpredictable page and character that has led to this point.

If you have any interest, please subscribe to my newsletter at to receive periodic updates on new projects, articles, hopefully a podcast launch before too long, and more. And you can always follow me on socials @askunclemarty (Instagram and TikTok). Also, please show Clark and Codey Noel all the love you can by continuing to support them and the Uncle Marty’s Shipping Office brand expansion by visiting and following the socials they’ll soon take over @unclemartysoffice (Instagram) and @unclemartys (Facebook and TikTok).

Here's to the next chapter.


This article was also also published in MBC Today Volume 26 Issue 1 on January 2, 2024.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The November/December 2023 Issue of MBC Today

The latest issue of MBC Today has just dropped. This is the magazine that I started writing for maybe 15 or so years ago when it was called MPC Today, and then after the industry shifted and many of the businesses in it changed from "mail and parcel centers" to "mail and business centers" to be more inclusive of what they actually do with printing, etc., the industry association changed its name and the magazine consequently did too, replacing the P for "parcel" with a B for "business."

Anyway, after writing for it for years, I started assisting the production person with proofreading. Soon, I took on the title of Editor and, after another year or so, when she retired, I started producing the magazine too. I created many regular columns, including my own Ask Uncle Marty advice column, MBC Funnies, Oops!, Lessons From the Archives, A Little Something Extra, Did You Know, and more, which are rotated through depending on available space in each issue I put together. I also added Shrimps, which are little nuggets of wisdom, recommendations, and inspiration peppered throughout the publication (and called "Shrimps" because that's what a long-ago association head, Charmaine, would call little bits of awesome that she'd interject or hand out at industry events, so that name is in honor and remembrance of all of the positive things she did for our industry).

Years later, I now do all of the production and editing, with some proofreading assistance from my team and advertising coordination assistance from colleagues. I set the magazine's production schedule, solicit submissions, work with featured businesses to share their stories, and do all of the layout, graphics, and formatting. I've learned a lot through the process and absolutely love this type of work. And the thought that for some reason this industry and its thousands of stores and shopkeepers have any interest in anything I have to say still kind of blows my mind. But, for some reason they do, and so I keep cranking it out.

I wanted to share the latest full issue of MBC Today (Volume 25 Issue 6) with you all here so you can see what keeps me out of trouble at night. I also want to remind the world that I'm always open to discuss the occasional editing and/or producing contracts, whether it's full publications like this or just the occasional eblast, bio, resume, article, blog post, website, or newsletter. I'm not cheap, but I'm efficient and meticulous...and, as you can see below, not too shabby at it. ;)

Click this link and see the full issue. Enjoy!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Days With Knight

Bobby Knight, legendary basketball coach, passed away on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023just two days ago. He had a reputation and was an oft-seen figure in the news, and I’ll admit I didn’t know him well, but he did have an impact on me that I’d like to share.

I’ve never been very athletic, nor have I ever had a penchant for sports. So, working in athletics wasn’t a place I imagined myself to ever be. But, after moving to Lubbock, Texas in 1999 to study business at Texas Tech University, a job opened up as a student assistant in the athletic department...and I jumped at it.

I had already studied a couple of years at Binghamton University, but instead of studying business my focus was initially on biology with pre-med intentions, then I switched to psychology for three semesters. While in Binghamton, my hometown, I continued to manage my parents’ three Pack & Mail stores, an industry I had been in since they opened their first in 1991. So, when I moved to Texas, my job at the athletic department was actually my first-ever job outside of the mail and business center industry (an industry I’ve found myself back in over and over again for well over 30 years now), and my first time considering a career in business instead of in the sciences.

One big reason for my move to West Texas was to be near my grandmother, whom my siblings, cousins, and I called “Mam-ma” (pronounced “ma’am-maw”) who lived in Lubbock. I had some other family there too, as well as some friends I had made from visiting there over the years. I was excited for the move and transfer, as I’ve always been a lover of adventure and change. I bought a pair of boots, made dear friends, found my tribe, and was able to take Mam-ma out on a shopping and dinner date every Tuesday—days I still treasure and remember fondly, gossiping over chicken fried steak at the local dive restaurant while she puffed on her Virginia Slims (back then, you could still smoke in restaurants in Texas), going to JC Penny to find the special brand of taupe pantyhose she preferred, playing Skip-Bo back at her apartment while we drank Coke from glass bottles that she opened with her old beer bottle opener, and snacking on her famous Frito pie made with the flattest Vidalia onions we could find while watching the Cowboys play, trying to spot my distant cousin Angie, one of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, in the lineupMam-ma using the wall calendar Angie had sent, signed by all the cheerleaders to “Dear Aunt Hullie” (as she was nicknamed by her niblings), as a visual reference to try to pick out which blonde dancer among them might be Angie.

While I technically did work for the Texas Tech Athletic Department, my primary responsibility was working in the Double T Shoppes, which, even though plural, when I arrived was just one store in a small building next to the football stadium. This was the football stadium of 1999, not the behemoth they’ve built since in its place, though still it was considerably more colossal than any stadium I had experienced in Binghamton. That’s for dang sure. Football is certainly a giant part of the culture in West Texas.

One thing that we did at the Double T Shoppes was merchandise concessions at all of the major sporting events. I also did merch concessions at non-sporting events, which is how I had my own private Elton John concert, a true story I shared on in April of 2017 (in case you want to go searching in the archives to read it). For sports concessions, we had satellite booths in the football stadium, baseball stadium, and old basketball arena. When I came there, Texas Tech was in the process of building a gigantic, shiny new basketball arena—the United Spirit Arena—and, when it opened, the old arena was eventually converted into the home of the Lubbock Cotton Kings, the first ice hockey team to come to West Texas, which was…let’s just say…entirely amusing to experience.

Inside the new United Spirit Arena, the Double T Shoppes opened its second full-on location and I got to be part of that store’s design and layout and on the team that got to open its doors for the first time to the public. It was exciting! It was right inside the main entrance to the arena, at the foot of the grand staircases, surrounded by glass, and absolutely beautiful.

Around the corner from our store in the arena were the offices for the Lady Raiders and Red Raiders management and coaching teams. Marsha Sharp, legendary Head Coach of the Lady Raiders, less than a decade past winning the national championship and still going strong, would be in and out often and usually wave while she walked by the store coming to and from her office. I liked her a whole lot.

Not long after we opened that location, news broke that Texas Tech was hiring a controversial new Head Coach for the men’s basketball team, the Red Raiders, which to this day I believe was in part to help them get attendance up at the new arena so men’s games could come up to somewhat par with the oft-sold-out popularity of the Lady Raiders games. Bobby Knight was going to come down from Indiana where he was making national headlines and move to Lubbock to be our new coach. It was a local (and national) media event that was very exciting to be in the middle of!

I didn't know Coach Knight well, though he was always friendly and cordial to me and my team, as was his familysome of whom worked with him at the offices. Though in Lubbock's eyes he could never reach the same level of public adoration or respect as Coach Sharp, he did add some excitement and media frenzy to the area while he was there. And I personally credit both he and Coach Sharp for playing a part in getting this notoriously unathletic guy who didn’t have much interest in watching a game if there wasn’t a theatrical halftime show or a find-your-cousin challenge into one who enjoyed and somewhat followed college sports, even for just a little while. I left my comfort zone, learned a lot, became much more understanding and appreciative of a world that I didn’t often experience before, and made friends that I certainly may not have encountered otherwise.

In 2001, as a going away present when I left the Texas Tech University Athletic Department, Coaches Sharp and Knight both signed a basketball for me. It was something I treasured!

Rest in peace, Coach.


For many years now, it has been my sincere privilege to serve as a director with the Association of Mail & Business Centers (AMBC). 

I had actually worked on staff when it was called AMPC (Association of Mail & Parcel Centers) as Director of Member Store Marketing and Director of its flagship store, Mailboxes & Parcel Depot, in 2010-11 when I lived in Rockford, Illinois. I had gone to Rockford as a consultant hired by AMPC to help get their flagship store in shape. I lived in a hotel for three months while I worked on the store, switched their software, deep cleaned, painted, fired the manager with a poor attitude who was hurting business, hired a new manager with an upbeat and positive attitude, put new systems in place, got new products and services aligned, and within three months turned a profit that hadn't been seen in quite a while. They liked what I did so much that they hired me on...and so I stayed in Rockford for a while.

Then, in preparation to open my own business in 2011 in Ithaca, New York, I left AMPC, it soon transitioned into a non-profit and changed its name, and then I was asked to join the initial non-profit board of directors at AMBC as a store owner and member. I started on that board as Secretary and Director of Marketing and eventually became Board Chair and Director of Communication. After fulfilling two terms on the board, no longer able to serve as a voting member due to term limits, I volunteered to continue on as an ex officio non-voting director and also serve as official Advisor to the Board. 

And now, after many years of service, it's time for me to officially step down and just be available as an unofficial advisor, as needed, and help when requested at in-person and online and seminars as a speaker or instructor. I will still continue as Editor and Producer of AMBC's magazine, MBC Today, as that has been my pet project and a position I hold as a contract outside of my volunteer service to the board. All of this is in preparation for some very exciting career news that I hope to share with you all next week. 

Until then, here are some excerpts from the issue of MBC Today (Volume 25 Issue 6) that I just finished today that talk a little bit about that transition. This issue will officially drop in a day or two, but my readers here at are getting a sneak peek of my editorial letter, as well as the current Board Chair Norman Froscher's message that contains kind words that have meant the world to me. 


Letter From the Editor

Dear Readers,
On behalf of my fellow former AMBC Board Chair Fahim and myself, I want to express our profound gratitude for the opportunity to serve this important, forward-moving organization. As Norman mentions in his letter, we both will be stepping down from our official director and board advisor roles on January 1st, but will of course continue to participate in the organization, help as needed at events, share stories and advice in our own coaching and in MBC Today, and I'm going to keep editing and producing this magazine, a task I thoroughly enjoy and can't wait to keep growing, so you really won't be getting any breaks from either of us talking at you anytime soon.
Truly, it has been our honor and privilege to serve in leadership positions with AMBC for many years now and, as Fahim often reminds me, seeing the current board of directors thriving and growing our organization warms our hearts, almost with a parental type of pride. It's awesome. We are so proud of each who volunteers and gives so much time, energy, and heart to guide this group, with special accolades to Norman for his years of tremendous service as current Board Chair, Crysta as Vice Chair, Steve as Treasurer, Mary as Secretary, and Tom, David, Ayden, and Tommy as board members each serving an important role.
As Norman mentions in his letter, 2023 was a very good year for AMBC with three very successful events. For myself, it was also a very good year with my business continuing to grow and some exciting projects and opportunities that are looking hopeful to come to fruition in 2024, more about which I hope to be able to announce in a couple of weeks. I've got a big ol' trick up my sleeve, so stay tuned!
This year-end issue of MBC Today is, once again, packed full. Please read it in its entirety and share it with your coworkers so all can benefit from its inspiring content. As this is the November / December edition, per tradition we'll be mailing it not only to all of our current AMBC Members, but also as a special gift to all of AMBC's contacts, including former members, prospective members, and friends of our non-profit organization. If you're getting this magazine only once per year, please visit and check out the benefits of membership, then log in to see your current membership status. We sometimes find that folks who get our eblasts and follow our social posts may not realize that they're not actually current AMBC Members and are missing out on so many of the other benefits of membership, including the other five issues of MBC Today that we send out each year. If you have trouble, email and Kim or Brad will get you set up.
I hope you're utilizing one very important benefit of AMBC membership: access to decades worth of MBC Today archives in the members-only section of I like to look back at them every November to check out each year-end issue's holiday preparation content, which helps get my store ready for the December rush and reminds me of little things that I might have otherwise forgotten to do to gear up for it.

Please plan to join AMBC in Vegas in March. It's gonna be spectacular with class upon class of great content (as you've come to expect from AMBC events), workshops, fun activities, some of the best networking at any industry event you'll ever attend, a trade show, and, as always, meals that you won't want to miss.
With care,

A Message From the AMBC Board Chair

Dear Fellow AMBC Members,

As we draw to a close in 2023 and prepare for what’s hopefully an exciting and profitable holiday shipping season, I wanted to look back briefly on this year before focusing on 2024 and the future of AMBC.

We changed our approach to our conventions and instead of trying to do one all-encompassing event, focused on smaller, more intimate regional events. We limited the attendance and narrowed the agenda to be more specific. Our 2023 regionals started off with Mailboxes and Mochas hosted at my store, Espresso Mail, in West Palm Beach, Florida, in February. In June, we had an amazing Paper and Pallets event in Springfield, Ohio, hosted at Steve Dick's store, Box King. And we finished the year strong with Retail and Relationships in September, hosted at Seema and Fahim Mojawalla's store, Island Ship Center, in Niagara Falls, New York. The response and feedback from the attendees at these events was very positive. With a variety of instructors, classes, and settings, the regionals as singular events were outstanding in themselves; together, under the AMBC tent, they showed the strength of our organization.

Preparations are well in hand for our next event in March 2024 in Las Vegas. Not only has it been several years since we’ve had an event on the West Coast, but we’re also adding something new to our event mix: piggybacking with ASD Market Week (, touted as "the most comprehensive trade show for retail merchandise in the United States," which will be happening next door to our hotel that same weekend. The combination of an outstanding agenda and the opportunity to attend that event too promises to be a week that will bear fruit for your stores for years to come. Don’t gamble on missing this event. (See what I did there?)

As 2023 ends, our former Board Chairs Fahim Mojawalla and Marty Johnson will be transitioning out of their official advisor and director roles with AMBC. On behalf of the industry, AMBC, the current board of directors, and as a mentee of both of these outstanding people, I want to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation for everything they’ve done for our industry. They truly embody the #membershelpingmembers spirit. Their sacrifice and volunteering have set an example the rest of us on the board can only hope to emulate going forward.

In addition to the Las Vegas event, we’ve got some very exciting things in the works for our membership. We’ll continue to improve our industry-leading training, both in-person and online. And since you’re reading this, you’re already enjoying our industry’s leading magazine.

Here’s hoping your holiday shipping season is the best. Looking forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in March.

Thanks as always for your trust,

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Go Forth and Cookiefy

I want to share another editorial letter from my archives with you, as I'm sure I'll be doing plenty over the next few months in my attempt to dig through countless articles and letters I have that were never shared on this site. This letter was published in the March / April edition of MBC Today (volume 25 issue 2) on March 2, 2023. It's about cookies. And relationships. And lots of warm fuzzies. Enjoy!

Letter From the Editor

Dear Readers,

I buy a lot of cookies. But, because I'm sugar-free, I don't eat them. Instead, I've been giving them away at my shop.

We started this long ago, celebrating birthdays and workiversaries of team members with cookies, cupcakes, or some other sweet treat, and instead of just getting a few for ourselves, we got a bunch and gave them out to guests who visited on those days. In December, we often load up on Christmas cookies to give away on a pretty platter at our front counter. And now, just for funzies once in a while, I or one of my coworkers (usually Julie) will pick up a batch of cookies, cannoli chips, muffins, or chocolates to sweeten up guests who visit on any random day we feel the whim to make sweeter.

We now have a dedicated treat tray (with a sealing lid for sanitary purposes) for this, as it's become such a regular practice. Just today, we had a guest in, who I hadn't met before, and after offering him a cookie, he said, "I was offered a cookie last time I was in here. Is that something you always do!?" He was so impressed.

Giving people treats does wonders to keep our guests in great moods; they literally leave with a good taste in their mouths. Guests remember the experience and it makes an impression that they tell their friends and family about, continuing the word-of-mouth grassroots marketing that we have built our business on.

I recently spent some time with my cousin's stepson, Devon. He has a powerwashing business and is doing so well at it that, even with a couple of employees, he's able to take most of the colder months off and sustain the whole operation with booming demand in warmer months. He's clearly doing something right. So, I asked him...

What is it that he does differently that keeps his clients coming back again and again, and recommending his services to their friends and neighbors? He simply said that he makes sure he and his coworkers all take extra time to ensure jobs are done right, and done more thoroughly than anyone else would do them. He always likes to do a little extra on each job too—something the client didn't ask for and didn't expect, so they feel they got more than they paid for and were special. And to that, Uncle Marty shouts a hearty, "Amen!"

Devon went on to tell me that when he was young, he used to go to the bank with his dad and they always gave him a Tootsie Roll. He remembered that experience so clearly that now, as a nearly-30-year-old with a successful small business of his own, he still banks at that same bank because they proved to him that they're in the business of relationships.

As I put together this issue and read through Ayden's article, "The Postmarked Story," I sure noticed that he mentions the Hershey Kisses he gives out to guests. Ayden gets it, and I guarantee those Kisses are a key part of his relationship-building strategy. Please glean all you can from his story. It's an important one!

We're all mourning the loss of AMBC Member, friend, and colleague, Bellenda, and you'll see a tribute to her on page 11 of this issue. One thing that always stood out to me about her was her bubbling-over-with-joy spirit. She lit up a room! And I can guarantee that every guest and client who walked through the doors of Pack 'N' Mail in Warrensburg felt the same. She knew exactly what it was to build relationships and keep people coming back again and again.

Are you in the business of relationships? I hope so. I sure am. Devon sure is. Ayden sure is. Bellenda sure was. My peers on the AMBC Board of Directors sure are. And AMBC Members who follow the relationship model constantly and consistently show how it does wonders for our growth as small businesses.

How do you get started on this path of relationship-based business? Read this issue of MBC Today cover to cover, because AMBC's mantra and focus is relationships, relationships, relationships. Also, please attend one or more of the upcoming AMBC regionals to see first-hand how the relationship masters do it.

And then, go buy some cookies and start giving them out. It works. I promise!

With care,