Born – April 29th 1950
I am Harry Arnold Blum, I was born in Wilmington Delaware in the Delaware Hospital at 5:30 something A.M. on April 29 of 1950, making me a Taurus. I guess that makes me a“Baby Boomer.” I am not sure what that really means, but I can tell you for sure
However the World has become my stage.
Early in my life I was posed with the question, what are you going to be when you grow up? I have pondered that question most of my life.
Raised by Television
The 60’s were turbulent times. We were living in the middle of a “Cold War” with Russia. I remember the rush to build a bomb shelters in the home and the drills we held in school called ” Roll, Duck and Cover.” Just a little intense for a 10 year old child to understand. In the 60’s as the Vietnam War was escalating we watched a war take place on the evening news. Being children of the 50’s, television was our connection to the world. The reality of what was happening was having trouble sinking in as being reality and not just a television show.
My Moral Compass Develops
With all the protesting and violence surrounding the war, I sought refuge in a positive movement that to me felt right in line with my values. The last few years of high school, I was immersed in the movement of ” Up with People.” We sang such songs as ” Freedom isn’t Free” and “What color is God’s Skin?”. Of course the theme song of the cause “Up, Up with People.” In the right hand side of the album, notice the reviews by Walt Disney and Pat Boone. It is little wonder that I chose to enlist and help people.
Serving My Country
I watched on T.V. each night the Evening News reporting the latest causalities and who was doing what to whom. I saw brave men and women willing to fight to preserve our freedom. I felt impelled to do my part. I had always been drawn to the water, since I was a child. We, as a family , had always had access to a small motor boat. It seemed natural for me to enlist in the United States Coast Guard.
Life Boat Station, Shinnecock, NY
After boot-camp in, Cape May, NJ, my first duty was as part of a crew on a 44 foot “Self Righting” Lifeboat. This particular vessel was known for its ability to flip completely over, no matter how treacherous the sea’s, Shinnecock, NY. was located 87 miles from New York City, on Long Island, that puts you 87 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. A Lifeboat Station is the first line of defense to protect the small craft that transverse our waterways. Being that far out, our mission was of paramount importance. We were “underway way” protecting both life and property, sometimes, for days at a time.
Quartermaster School, Newport, RI
The word, came through, there was a shortage of Quartermaster’s. A Quartermaster, is both a Navigator and Signalman, that assists, the Captain in
safe passage of a ship and he is the recorder of all the activities of
the bridge, of a ship. I was selected to become a Quartermaster and went to school in Newport, RI. Being fascinated with the material I was learning, I graduated at the top of my class and was offered an opportunity to serve the President of the United States as one of 10 Coast
Guard attached to the Presidential Yacht “Sequoia”. I served as part of President Nixon’s White House, my responsibilities, were to serve as both security and navigator for the yacht.
Long Beach, CA
The next leg of my journey was in California. It was aboard, what is called a “Weather Cutter.” This was a World War II vintage, ex-navy ship that was transferred to the Coast Guard. Our ship was 255’ long and had a crew, I believe of 150. The Minnetonka or “Minnie” as we called it’s, mission, was to was to drift 1500 miles off the coast of California, thirty days at a time and assist vessels in distress and give navigational aid to aircraft. We also did 3 months in the Aleutian Islands on Fishing Patrol (Russians and Japanese fishing in protected water)
Coast Guard Station, Curtis Bay, Baltimore, MD
My last duty in the Coast Guard was as a “Housing Officer.” I negotiated, more then 3 million dollars in contracts for all the housing in our district.
Truly a unique military tour of duty!
Loyola College, Baltimore, MD
I attended Loyola College for 2 years, majoring in Business Administration. The universe had other ideas for the direction of my career. As for computers, we were exposed to I.B.M. computer cards, hardly an inspiration for what was about to come.
My Career Changes
Take-A-Break Coffee comes to Fruition
Around 1965, my father hit upon an idea at a franchise show in Chicago. Increase productivity on the workplace, by keeping the employee in the office and bringing coffee to them. The original idea was to utilize a 32-cup West Bend Urn. The hook was to take two pie tins, fill them with coffee and use them instead of a basket.”No Grounds for Complaint” was the message.
Our garage became a coffee factory and the business was up and running. “Columbia Coffee Service of Delaware Valley” was born. It was a very manual job filling each tin and the whole family was involved in the process. The little business was in the right place at the right time. After the first year the corporate franchise was floundering, due to mismanagement. It looked like the company was doomed to fail. My father, in a last ditch effort went to a coffee show in New York. By happenstance he connected with a gentleman named John Bunn. Bunn Equipment had always served the restaurant industry, but had never considered expanding. He and my dad, created the first “Home Coffee Machine”. It was a shrunken version of
Bunn’s successful commercial equipment and used small fraction bags of coffee filled with nitrogen. (to preserve freshness) The Bunn B-3 was created at our dinner table. This machine created the Home and Office coffee industry, making way for a myriad of equipment, like “Mr. Coffee”.
The Coffee Service took off like a shot, and continued to grow through the early 70′s. Even so much that we helped found the National Coffee Service Association. My father was doing very well and found himself with time on his hands. As he got more and more office business, they were asking him to provide more services. He was thrown in to a business called vending. He found a company and merged the two businesses. The problem is that his new partner had a different agenda. The new guy bailed and my father asked me to learn the vending company.
I had just done my stint in college and was trying to figure out what was next. I started by learning how to repair equipment. Then I decided to embrace the business. When I took over vending it was producing $2000.00 a week. Two years later, the sales were $50,000 a week. I joined the company formally in 1977; we spent the next 25 years growing the family business. My personal philosophy that has helped, guide my Life’s Journey is that “Every Deal is a Win – Win or it’s not a Deal.” I have walked away from many different opportunities if this mantra was not present!
By 1980 we were a leader in our field. Both of my brothers Ron and Alan had decided to join and together we grew the business. Alan ran the “Coffee Service and Ron did sales. We were recognized by our trade magazine as the
“company to watch.”
During the 80‘s we exploded, our business and expanded in to Food Service, Vending, Cafeterias and Bottled Water. We designed and built a 5000 square foot kitchen to do production.
Our initial fleet of 4 vehicles has grown in the 90′s to over 50. Not bad for a company that started in our garage? I was Operations Manager maintaining our 30,000 square foot facility, warehouse, the service of the vending, coffee machines and the maintenance of our fleet. This was, quite a jump, from me not knowing what a vending machine was in the 70′s. It was definitely a team effort.
The last part of my puzzle was when I discovered Purchasing. I embraced in like all other parts of the business. I dedicated myself to the task at hand. I learned everything I could about the skill of procurement. I bought everything from a bag of chips, kitchen equipment, property to vehicles. I learned how to out source services such as plumbing, refrigeration and truck repair. I joined the Board of the Delaware Purchasing Association and simultaneously was asked to manage the Board of Directors of Better Vending Association. B.V.A. as was called. Our responsibility was for the management of 200 million dollars of buying power for the industry. I found the need for products, not available in vending channel. I approached manufacturers and distributors, to encourage the sharing of product exclusively going to the Convenience Stores ( 7-Eleven, WaWa) and expand into the vending arena. I worked with, Frito-Lay, Pepsi, Sara Lee, New England Apple, Hershey and Nestles,Tasty-Cake, just to name a few, as a consultant. This gave our little company all the “latest and greatest idea’s and products that were being tested. It helped our business stay on the leading edge.
He was being honored by an association, he helped found.
My Dad is crying, it is the only time I ever saw him cry.
“True Coffee Pioneer”
Gerald Blum 1928 – 1999
“Feed the Needy, Not the Greedy”
It was his philosophy of life and he lived it!
Sadly, after my father passed away, my brothers, chose to take the business in different direction, I decided on a different course.
Harry Discover’s the Internet
My first exposure to the Internet came in the early 90′s. I was privileged to attend early classes on the Web and it’s potential. I brought my company into the realm by creating both a “Intranet” (internal) and a “Intranet”(external) presence on the internet. The
Web was in such a state of infancy our business missed the potential completely . I continued to explorer the boundaries and decided to sell products with this new medium. I marketed “ Electronic Tape Measure (similar to early Polaroid technology) and “Range Caddies” a tool to carry clubs. I was also one of the early, very successful, dealers on Ebay.
My most successful venture was selling 5 lb Hershey Bars and it created for me a five figure income. I felt the momentum and potential exploding internet. My personal life took a change in 2000, I left a marriage of 25 years and decided to leave the family business. I began to explore other jobs I had never experienced. I worked for a Marketing Genius, Beryl Wolk (His family was one of largest printer in the United States and are credited with helping start Q.V.C). Their I was exposed to a plethora of products. Everything from treated water, build-able jewelry, Vatican Statues ( for sale to churches) , to every conceivable electronic gadget and potential web application ever devised, literally 1000′s. I even had the good fortune to pitch, products to Q.V.C. successfully. What an amazing experience.
My Volvo, Saves My Life!
My time with Beryl, was followed by the selling of cars, first Volvo, in which I was very proficient. The reality was that one the reasons my life changed in 2000 was because of an accident. I was hit by a then competitors truck in my new Volvo Wagon. People were both hurt
and killed, and I escaped with only some emotional issues, in perfect health. I really believe in the safety of the Volvo and in my first month in sales sold 27 vehicles. My only shortfall is my refusal to “tell people what they want to hear, just to sell the car”. I believe
now and have always believed in total honesty and integrity. I then went to sell Chevrolet’s, though not of the same safety standards, a value product. Again, I excelled in selling and continued to maintain my integrity.
Co-Publisher of a Fashion Magazine
The next career change was to help create a successful unique fashion magazine. I left the car business to pursue a career in the field of fashion. I was offered Co- Publisher of MAMI Magazine (Meaning Hot Mama) , it’s primary audience was a“multi-cultured” society. I have always had a passion for Photography and with my skills in team management and organization , the magazine offered the “Perfect Mix” expand my creativity. The magazine was warmly embraced into the Publishing Community, our niche, was perfect. I had the good fortune to photograph New York Fashion Week,
multiple times and Miami Fashion Week. I at one point I was asked if I choose go to Paris and California and travel globally and photograph for a International Magazine. A second opportunity, given me on a trip to New York was to live and work in the studio responsible for filming ” Victoria Secrets Models” and set up my own photo studio in Soho in New York City . My allegiance was with my magazine MAMI, but I was flattered by generous offers. We did many, many fashion shoots for the magazine, in Philadelphia ,New Jersey , New York to Miami and I loved and embraced each and every opportunity. Ultimately, the cost of creating a paper version of the magazine went through the roof and we decided to make it an internet only venture. My friend and Co-Publisher Jeff and I decided, three were not necessary to move the project forward. Algie took on the task and has continued the magazine to date, with much success.
A “Jewish” Deli in Annapolis, Maryland?
I then continued my journey, and landed in Annapolis Maryland and an amazing little Delly (it’s spelled right how to do spell jelly?) named Chick and Ruth’s . Their claim to fame was that for the last 20 years every-single day The Pledge of Allegiance is recited. It is also in my humble opinion the Best Jewish Delicatessen, south of New York City. I both managed and was a waiter in there for over 2 years. It was amazing who I met. Not only all the Maryland Politicians, but a continuous flow of celebrities. Kevin Bacon, Joe Peche, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, just
to name a few. Because of the proximity of Annapolis to Washington D.C., it was an easy place to do public opinion polls and the like. As for film crews, Discover Channel, Food Network, National Geographic , every branch of the BBC, in addition to all the local channels were constantly filming there. I had a woman come in an ran toward me, hugged me and told me she had seen me on television in Ireland and then another women had seen me, on T.V. in Russia.
I Now Live my Life with NO regrets!
My intention is to finally answer the question, I have been plagued with all these years.
What are you going to do when you grow up?
Answer, I’m not sure I will ever grow up?
My Joy in life is Creativity , Life-long learning and being a teacher.
Enjoy your Journey ! Harry
We have moved to Sonoma California, I am living, moment by moment, in my Joy!
After 4, AMAZING years in Sonoma, less then 1/2 of a block from the center of The Plaza and City Hall!
Living here in this Garden of Eden !
( Often Referred to as Melrose Place, by the residents)
You see where we were living! The 8 acres of park, surrounding Sonoma City Hall, aroused a passion in me, to assist in preserve this spectacular resource!
It encouraged me to become a Commissioner on the Community Service and Environmental Commission . Serving offered me the opportunity to have input into the proper and respectful use of Open Spaces, Bike Trails and “The Plaza‘.
Our Commission, with the approval of City Council, created policy to maintain and protect the plaza. These rules needed to be put in writing and implemented for over 50 years.
I felt totally satisfied when we decided to leave feeling very, very, very accomplished!
Thank you Sonoma for Believing in Me and giving me the opportunity to Serve!
I thought we were there to stay and Mount Shasta Called us,
Particularly McCloud, California,
is like stepping back into the simple live of the 50’s
Our Spectacular View, here at the base of Mount Shasta!
Life has not been the Same…… Let my Next Adventure Begin!
This is My Vision
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