This week the photographic industry lost one of its greats, Tommy Woods. He passed away on June 18.
Most of you never heard his name, but if you're in the retail and sales side of photography anywhere in the NY/NJ area, then he was as well known as Tiger Woods is to golf. He wasn't a photographer, an artist or for that matter, one of the tech weenies who could argue about MTF curves on the quality of a Hasselblad lens. He was just a great salesman...Dad and friend. He loved his wife, his family and took his friendships very seriously.
I joined Hasselblad as president in '87. I came out of Polaroid and wanted call reports, itemized accounts of how the salesmen spent their day. I was shocked that Hasselblad had a salesman who had so little knowledge of photography. Well, Tommy probably taught me one of my most important lesson as a manager. I remember him saying to me once, "You want reports or orders?" Throw in a few good expletives and it's an exact quote, because Tommy did things his way, but he always delivered. He had the respect of every retailer in NYC!
Jim Ritter, who's been with Canon for many years wrote,
"Our VP told me one time how he hated Tommy at the time, because he would be sitting there for an hour or two waiting for his appointment at B&H. Tommy would walk in, be immediately escorted in and walk out five minutes later with a massive order just waiting for him. He was a legend."
Tommy retired from the industry many years ago. I completely lost touch with him along with so many of the Hasselblad team at the time. With his passing, we all connected through emails this week and started sharing memories. That's the beauty of the Internet.
This is one of those posts I'm really writing just for my own benefit, but there is one small lesson you can take from Tommy...he lived by the words, "To thine own self be true." He was never phony with anybody. He couldn't have been more honest in his approach to sales, friendships and loyalty. His priority was always his family first, friends second and then came business.
Peter Power, part of the Hasselblad team from the old days, sent flowers on behalf of all of us. He really said it best:
From all his old friends at Hasselblad whom he worked with for almost 50 yrs. He was loved and cherished by us all and has left behind so many wonderful memories, He will never be forgotten.
Photo Credit: Jim Morton