Volume 14, Issue 1 - January/February 2012

where it all started

Anyone who has met Carl Tompkins, global marketing resources manager for Sika Corp., knows he is a natural salesperson. What many don’t know is that he got his start early—while still in college even, working a summer job as a door-to-door salesperson for Southwestern Publishing, based in Nashville, Tenn.

“It proved to be an invaluable experience,” says Tompkins, who just celebrated his 35th year in business.”
Tompkins found the job while studying political science at Portland State University in Portland, Ore.

“I received a call from a dental student who was in his junior year at the University of Oregon Dental School,” says Tompkins. “He invited me to an on-campus interview, stating that I could earn at least $2,500 for 12 weeks work, which was a fair amount back in the 1970s.”

Tompkins ended up with a job selling educational books door-to-door in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota over the next four summers—2,000 miles from home at the age of 19.

Tompkins says the hard work paid off, however, in future endeavors. “[The job] allowed us to differentiate ourselves from others during the summers,” says Tompkins. “We went out and learned to work hard on our own, relying on commissions.

“It [was] a job full of rejection. I’d sell three or four books a day. I’d make $60, $70 or $80 a day,” adds Tompkins.

Eventually, this job led Tompkins to his first in the glass industry as a manager of a retail glass shop, Rogue River Glass and Paint in Grant’s Pass, Ore. The owner and a family friend, John Schwab, hired him after reviewing his history in book sales.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Any kid who could have doors slammed into his face is going to do just fine,’” recalls Tompkins.

After working in a variety of areas of the glass industry, including flat glass wholesale, residential window marketing, and auto glass distribution, he joined Sika Corp. in 1995.

Today, Tompkins provides leadership and training for the company’s divisions around the world. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Spokane, Wash., and have two daughters, Lareesa and Stacy.

A Promise Fulfilled
Carl Tompkins, global marketing resource manager for Sika Corp., got his start in business in the mid 1970s as a door-to-door salesperson. Twenty years later, while working for Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries in the auto glass distribution business, he made a promise to his boss, John Kelleher. (Kelleher has since left the auto glass industry.)

“John was a person who was always loaded with ideas but was more singularly focused on what yours were over his own,” says Tompkins. “He drew people out and into dreaming with him and inventing with him and developing new ways to do business. He made it fun, and he made it family. He always had time for you.”

One particular day Kelleher asked Tompkins about his long-term goals.

“I said, ‘that’s easy, I’m going to write a book,’” says Tompkins. “He started laughing. I am not sure if he thought it was a ridiculous idea, but after the initial outburst he said, ‘You’re serious? You’re really going to write a book?’”

Tompkins says he explained to Kelleher that he wanted to share all he’d learned with others and that the book would be about “what it takes to do well in any corporate environment,” and recalls Kelleher’s response vividly. “Well, knowing you, Tompkins, you’re going to do it, and I have one request,” Kelleher replied. “Make sure I get the first copy.”

This year, Tompkins made the promise a reality with the publication of Winning at Business: A 35-Year Collection of Business Lessons.” Key Communications Inc. served as publisher.

The book focuses on four subjects of business: selling skills, management, personal development and customer service. It also includes a section that is focused on topics of importance to auto glass businesses.

“It was written not to be a novel, but it’s more of a resource book to help people win at business,” says Tompkins.

© Copyright 2012 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.