This month’s featured vendor is Jerry………….a very beloved figure in the Army Navy industry. As I was conducting the interview, I was immediately taken with Jerry’s warmth and genuineness.  Jerry is, in two words, a “great guy.”

I asked Jerry how he got started in the Army Navy Industry. Like many of our readers, his story begins quite a long time ago with a family business. Grandpa Cerf started in the liquor business in 1915. He came up with the idea of buying used cotton bags to wrap his product in bulk so that he could save money and make a better profit.  Then outside forces and government intervention (Sound familiar?) caused the business to re-invent itself: Prohibition. The reinvention was to re-cycle bags (Talk about visionary and “green”!) and produce drop cloths, flour sack dish towels and other products.

Jerry Michelson

Jerry came on the scene in 1971, immediately after graduation and eventually had to buy out his dad, uncle and grandmother. Jerry’s grandmother, Mrs. Cerf, lived to be 100!  After Jerry took over, he increased the business to 7 times its original size.  Then, like many small business owners, the challenge of growing too fast took its toll and Jerry sold the business to AmeriBag and made the decision to join the management team at Lewis N Clark.

At Lewis N Clark, Jerry is Vice President, and responsible for augmenting their fine line of travel related accessories. He is very enthusiastic about all the new camping, hunting, and adventure products he has helped create. The great news is that the first time these 300 new SKUs for 2011 will be introduced will be at the ANM Expo on January 16, 2011.   Some of the new items are state of the art, innovative duffels, light weight wheeled products, Uncharted™ Adventure Gear, travel accessories, Humangear® Go Toob products and many more!

Some of the words of wisdom Jerry shared were:

  • Do not deviate too far from what you know and do well. This causes you to lose your main focus.
  • Even though you have a huge hill to climb, make the ascent.
  • Realize that there is no such thing as failure, but an opportunity to grow and to realize that life and its fulfilling moments give you the motivation to carry on.
  • Friends and colleagues are treasures to be valued.

When asked what his greatest accomplishments in the Army Navy arena, he responded:

“Maintaining lifelong relationships with friends, reps, clients and business associates. —I always try to put customers first.  I am flexible and conduct business for tomorrow rather than today. This flexibility leads to extreme customer loyalty and to the success in my past endeavors and my new adventure.”

The final question asked of Jerry was: “If you have one piece of advice to give entrepreneurs, what would it be?”

Answer: “Follow the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ It is almost too simple to be true, but it is. You get back what you give.”

Jerry’s final comments were: “I am living proof that friends are forever and I could not have recovered from my losses as well without the help and support of my friends.”

Thanks Jerry, for all your words of wisdom and advice. Hope you all learned as much as I did.