Selling Firewood

While it’s probably evident that I enjoy talking about myself, I have a few stories to tell that were told to me along the way. This one provided a good lesson, that proves up that things are not always as they seem.

Years ago I had an accountant working for me that previously had worked for a wealthy gentleman over in Rockdale. GK was the accountant, Pete Coffield was his previous employer.

Mr. Coffield was in almost any business where he could make money. His earlier years, during the Depression, he had a little money so he hired guys to cut firewood. Being in the spring and summer he paid them to cut it and stack it in “ricks”. A rick, as they termed it, was simply an orderly stack that was measurable, so he could figure the amount they had cut, with no guess work involve. He would return in the fall and winter time to load up the wood and take it around selling it. It all seemed simple enough.

After months spent getting his stockpiles built up, he had paid the cutters and they were long gone. Firewood season came upon the area and he went out to start loading his wood. Low and behold, in every rick of wood there was a stump. The cutters had cut a tree down and purposefully concealed the stump in the stacks of wood. As he went along every rick of wood was done the same way.

After that experience, every time he went into a business deal he would always say “let’s look at this real carefully to be sure they haven’t ricked around a stump on us”. GK said that situation from years before probably had as much to do with his lifetime of success than just about any other factor.

I have used the “rick around a stump” test in many dealings myself. Some people will find a way to screw you if you let them.

Hubert Hardison “Pete” Coffield

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