Thursday, October 27, 2011

Final Selling Week Countdown! Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Traditional Final Orders are due next Tuesday, November 1st.  Here's your chance to make your final push for last minute sales!  Encourage your organization members to give it one last shot this week and weekend.  Your Fundraising goal can easily be achieved with a little motivation!

Contact your Customer Service Rep if you have any questions or need assistance submitting your Final Order, 800.446.4229. The Final Order Form is up on the Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser website, for your convenience. You can also fax in your Final Order to 763.434.4611 or mail to our address, 14630 Highway 65, Ham Lake, MN  55304.  We're here to help!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How many of you have a mother? - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

We’re now in the ‘ramping up’ stage for Wreath Production; each day another part of the operation begins as we train the returning employees from last year and new recruits to each respective part of the operation. Many of us have been working on this year's season for months. Hundreds of thousands of bows need to be tied and millions of jingle-bells need to be wired onto the pine cones. And, don't forget about painting the Classic pine cones. Now there's a job. If you needed to white-tip paint hundreds of thousands pine cones, how would you do it? We've had to improvise all sorts of creative solutions for quality crafting large quantities of wreaths, sprays and centerpieces for prompt delivery, and we all take great pride in our work.
Victorian Wreath, pictured with lights

Every Friday during the season is 'Donut Day'. While each staff member enjoys a well earned donut, I give the latest news, review safety guidelines, recognize some workers for outstanding performance, etc. A number of times during Donut Day Fridays I drive the point of quality craftsmanship home in a number of ways. My favorite is: "How many of you 'all have a mother?" After asking this question, one at a time the hands go up, but invariably, one or two don't raise a hand. So I ask them, "Do you mean that somehow you got here without having a mother???" Everyone giggles, and then I drive the point home: "OK, each day you all are going to see thousands of wreaths being fashioned. If you are working on a wreath that you wouldn't want to display on your mother's front door, that is a reject. Try again, because every single wreath is going to go on someone's mother's front door." They all get the point, and after break they go back to their jobs with a renewed sense of pride in their work. It is a good feeling.
Patented Packaging

My brother Chris and I, along with some very creative teammates, have devised many clever 'inventions' such as our 'patented' shipping container.  Dozens of small enhancements add up to the highest quality wreaths in the marketplace - something our staff is extremely proud of. Here is a comment forwarded to me from one of our marvelous Customer Service Reps:

"I spoke with a woman today that has been with (a competitor) for her group's past wreath fundraisers. I asked her why their group chose Mickman Brothers this year, and she said that their wreaths had come from their previous supplier all crushed every year, and she spent more time fixing up the wreaths than selling them. She is very excited to be with Mickman Brothers this year and loved our website. She is also happy that we take getting the wreaths to our customers in great condition so seriously! Thought I would pass this on to you."

All of us at Mickman Brothers are excited about this Wreath Season; we hope you and your Fundraising Organization are too! 

John S Mickman

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fundraising Step 3 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Schedule Selling and Update Meetings

Selling Meeting Highlights:
  • Track the progress towards your Fundraising Goal using the Fundraising Tally Spreadsheet
  • Answer any questions and provide selling tips
  • Check the status of member's orders.
  • Complete the Guesstimate Form located under Tab 2 in your binder prior to the Final Sales week.  The Guesstimate Form will also be available on the Holiday Fundraiser website starting October 17th, click on Customer Login to find the Guesstimate Form.
  • Plan your Final Order Meeting - this should be before November 1st (when Final Orders are due).
A complete description is available on Page 5 of the Fundraising Guide.  Have frequent meetings to discuss and ensure your Group's goals are met.

Brothers - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

My mom and I disagree about how old we were when my brother Mark and I embarked upon our first long distance hitchhiking excursion back in the late 60's.  She says I was about 13; I'm sure I was no older than 11 and our dad though that was about right.  My brother was 20 months younger than me.

At any rate, we had talked out parents into letting us stay a few days longer at our 'rich' cousin's lake house near Crookston, MN - about 300 miles from our house in the Twin Cities.  How were we going to get home?  We were going to hitchhike.

On that fine July day in the late 60's when we started our journey, Uncle Jack dropped us off at an unremarkable intersection in the Red River Valley - pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  There wasn't any traffic, and Mark and I got into a discussion of who was the better hitchhiker.  I was older and had hitchhiked home from school way more times than Brother Mark, but Mark was adamant that he was better at getting rides.  Being extremely competitive in everything we did, we ended up making this into a contest - a long distance race; the first one home would be the better hitchhiker, the winner of the race - no bones about it!  We flipped a coin and Mark won.  I slipped into the cornfield to await my turn on the old, potholed, ribbon of highway.

The first vehicle to come by was an old, beat up pick-up truck which stopped and picked up Mark.  Bad ride, I thought to myself; that guy isn't going to go very far.  I jumped out of the cornfield and waited for my ride.  The next car was a guy going 30 miles down the road and I grinned and waved to Mark in the old pick-up truck when we passed him along the way.  I was sure I was going to win.

My second ride took a little longer to get, and while I was waiting, Mark passed me by in the front seat of some car with a lady driving.  Shoot, I wondered how far she was going to take my brother!  We played 'leap frog' 3 or 4 times like this, each time waving to the other brother with a big grin, each of us gloating big time when we were in the lead.  This was a great race!  The day was warm, the sky was blue and all was well with the world.

Finally, some distance north of Little Falls, I picked up a ride with 2 guys in a new Plymouth who said they were going all the way to 'the Cities'.  These guys were really surprised that a little kid like me was hitchhiking all the way from 'Up North'.  I told them all about my cousins and how I talked my dad into letting me make the trip - not saying anything about my mom who didn't like the idea at all, or my brother Mark, who I knew at the moment was in front of me somewhere.  After quite a conversation, they offered to go out of their way and drop me at an intersection only about a mile from our house.  Way cool; I was going to win.  There was no way Mark could catch up now!

Unfortunately, on our way through Little Falls, I saw my brother a few blocks ahead, hitchhiking near a stop light.  The two guys saw him too, "Look at that", the driver said.  "Another little kid hitchhiking.  Let's pick him up."  I was horrified!  "No, don't pick him up", I stammered.  "There isn't any room back here for another person", and I stretched both arms as wide as I could reach across the huge back seat.  The two guys gave me a puzzled look, eyeing the skinny little kid with a crew cut in the back seat of the huge Plymouth, and said, of course there was plenty of room.

Extreme frustration set in and I realized Mark and I hadn't thought of the possibility of both of us getting a ride in the same car all the way home.  When Mark got in the car, I immediately explained to him that this was actually 'my ride'; that I got in the car first, so I must be the winner.  "Na-ahhh", Mark said.  "The first one home wins the race, and we aren't home yet" he said.  Sometime during this sophisticated discussion, the two guys looked more closely at us and realized that we were brothers.  When we explained that we were in a hitchhiking race they had a hard time believing us.  But, here we were; how else could they explain how two little kids were hitchhiking alone through Minnesota?

Mark and I had to make a revision to the rules; The first one of us to actually touch the front door of our house would win.  Nope, not the first one in the yard; the first one to touch the door.  OK, so this was going to end up being a footrace.

After a long ride, the Plymouth finally pulled to the shoulder of Highway 65 at Mississippi Street in our hometown of Fridley.  We were both so keyed-up and jumpy we could hardly stand it.  Before the car was completely stopped, both of the back doors of the Plymouth flew open and we both flew out at a dead run, each of us carrying our dirty clothes and a swimming suit in brown paper sacks.  We lived a mile away from the intersection and we were both great runners with lots of races behind us.  But this one was different - our biggest race ever.

We were neck and neck, running as fast as our young legs could carry us.  My legs were burning and my lungs were bursting, but I couldn't let my little brother beat me.  I pushed even harder, dredging up every last bit of strength I could muster.  Mark was doing the same.  Our young hearts pumping harder than they had ever pumped before.  Sweat kept running into our eyes, blurring our vision and burning as we wiped it off with already wet forearms.  Block after block we ran through total exhaustion; can you picture this?

At last we rounded the final corner into the neighborhood, and I could see our house.  I had an idea of dropping my paper bag as soon as we got to out yard to lighten the load, sure this would help me win.  Mark had the same idea and dropped his bag too.  As we raced up the gently sloping yard, I thought my legs would give out, but we both kept running as fast as we could.

My last idea was that I wouldn't actually climb up the front steps; I would jump across the steps to get just a half second advantage and touch the front door before Mark.  My timing was perfect, and at the base of the steps, I jumped as hard and long as a could, reached my arm out, and touched the door with just the tips of my fingers.  At that exact moment of glory, I looked to my right and Mark had done the same thing.  We both had touched the door at the exact, same, moment!  Unbelievable; the race had begun hours before, hundreds of miles away, and had ended in an exact tie!  We were both kinda scraped up from our skid across the concrete steps and completely out of breath, but as we laid there we started to giggle - and the giggles turned into laughs, and the laughs kept up until our sides hurt.

There is nothing else like brothers growing up together.  Sometimes 'partners in crime' when something goes wrong, they are ferocious competitors when the opportunity arises.  But, brothers are first of all best friends, discovering their world together with all of its wonder and adventure, developing passions and comradery that will be shared through a lifetime.  I'm so glad my brothers and I shared those years together so long ago.  I would not be the person I am today without them.

John S Mickman

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Without a Clue - Mickman Brothers Wreath Fundraiser

When we were little kids, my dad purchased a number of large parcels of land on which to grow Christmas Trees.  In hindsight, it wasn't for the money, he did it so us boys would have work to do - with him.  We had a great time and learned to love what we did - together.

Early one fine Sunday morning back in 1962 when I was 12, dad told my brother Mark and me to drive our small Massey Ferguson tractor from one farm to the other farm.  I couldn't believe my ears; we were going to get to drive all the way to the other farm, about 10 miles, all by ourselves!  Actually, I was the oldest brother, so I knew I'd get to drive the whole way...

Well, the battered old tractor had no muffler, no lights or signals.  In addition, the whole idea was to get the disc implement, which was wider than the tractor by about 4 feet on each side, to the other farm. Although there were a lot of turns, Mark and I both knew how to get where we were going, and away we went.  I drove while my brother stood on the clutch platform and leaned against the starboard fender.

We had to yell to hear each other over the din of the un-muffled engine and the clanking of the old tractor as we bounced down the road.  We were laughing and giggling the whole way and everything was going great.  Some of the farm dogs along the way chased the tractor, barking all the while; about what, we didn't know.  The sun was shining on our young bronzed faces and we were in charge; life was good.

Then, a mile or so before we arrived at the other farm, I looked back at the disc (which stuck out 4 feet!) as we passed by someone's mailbox that was kinda close to the road.  At the last second, I jerked the tractor to the left and the disc barely missed the mailbox.  Whew!  Mark saw it too, and we looked at each other with a sigh of relief.  We were OK, but I was thinking about all the other mailboxes we had passed over the course of the past 9 miles.  Mark was thinking the same thing, and we whispered to each other about the possible horror of it all several times during the day.

When it was finally time to go home, we piled into dad's old '59 Chevrolet Apache Panel Truck and headed back the same way as we had come that morning.  Mark and I were absolutely petrified to see many, many men along the route fixing their mailboxes.  After a few miles, dad commented on what a coincidence it was that all those guys chose that particular day to fix-up their mailboxes.  Mark and I looked at each other and were both too scared to say anything.  We never told him.

After all these years, I still feed bad about it.  So, if you were one of the dads that had to fix-up your mailbox along Co. Rd. 5, near Isanti, on a fine June Sunday afternoon back in 1962, I apologize.  We didn't do it on purpose; we were just a couple of kids driving an old tractor up the road on a sunny day - without a clue.

John S. Mickman

Fundraising Tip #3 - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

Review your Tip Sheet

Check the progress of your members:

Have your fundraising organization members double-check that they have contacted all the names on their 'My Customer List'.

Fundraising Envelopes/Order Forms:
Review each member's envelope/order form to be sure they are filled out correctly.  Remind them that emails will be useful for announcing Delivery Dates and for next year's Holiday Fundraiser as well.

Generate enthusiasm:
Your members are looking to you for encouragement.  Keep your goal in sight (paid expenses to boy scout or marching band camps; uniforms for dance teams, sports teams and marching bands; or any other expense your fundraising group may have)!  If they understand what the goal is, they will be more excited to achieve success!